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A  Record  of  Events  and  Trends 

in  American  and  Wbrld  Jewish  Life 




YEAR  BOOK,  the  96th  in  the  se- 
ries, continues  to  offer  a  unique 
chronicle  of  developments  in  areas 
of  concern  to  Jews  around  the 

This  year's  volume  features  two 
special  articles.  In  "Jewish  Experi- 
ence on  Film — An  American  Over- 
view," Joel  Rosenberg  offers  a 
novel  analysis  from  the  perspec- 
tive of  current  film  criticism,  exam- 
ining the  ways  in  which  Jews  are 
both  reflected  in  film  and  have 
helped  to  shape  it.  He  discusses 
films,  personalities,  and  trends,  in- 
cluding the  growth  of  independent 
filmmaking  and  Jewish  film  festi- 

"Israelis  in  America,"  by  Steven 
J.  Gold  and  Bruce  Phillips,  pro- 
vides a  wide-ranging  sociodemo- 
graphic  profile  of  an  immigrant 
group  that  differs  in  important 
ways  from  any  other  in  the  Ameri- 
can Jewish  experience.  The  au- 
thors discuss  the  controversial 
subject  of  how  many  Israelis  there 
are  in  the  U.S.  and  provide  data 
about  their  economic  and  social 
adjustment.  They  also  shed  new 
light  on  Israelis'  identity  conflicts 
and  their  creation  of  a  distinctive 
Israeli-American  community. 

(Continued  on  back  flap) 




Year  Book 

The  American  Jewish  Committee  acknowledges  with  appreciation  the 
foresight  and  wisdom  of  the  founders  of  the  Jewish  PubHcation  Society 
(of  America)  in  the  creation  of  the  American  Jewish  year  book  in 
1 899,  a  work  committed  to  providing  a  continuous  record  of  develop- 
ments in  the  U.S.  and  world  Jewish  communities.  For  over  a  century  JPS 
has  occupied  a  special  place  in  American  Jewish  life,  publishing  and 
disseminating  important,  enduring  works  of  scholarship  and  general 
interest  on  Jewish  subjects. 

The  American  Jewish  Committee  assumed  responsibility  for  the 
compilation  and  editing  of  the  year  book  in  1908.  The  Society  served 
as  its  publisher  until  1949;  from  1950  through  1993,  the  Committee  and 
the  Society  were  co-publishers.  In  1994  the  Committee  became  the  sole 
pubHsher  of  the  year  book. 


Year  Book  1 




Executive  Editor 





All  rights  reserved.  No  part  of  this  book  may  be 
reproduced  in  any  form  without  permission  in 
writing  from  the  publisher,  except  by  a  reviewer 
who  may  quote  brief  passages  in  a  review  to  be 
printed  in  a  magazine  or  newspaper 

ISBN  0-87495-110-0 

Library  of  Congress  Catalogue  Number:  99-4040 




J.  his  year's  volume  features  two  special  articles.  Continuing  our  series 
on  aspects  of  American  Jewish  culture,  Joel  Rosenberg  contributes  "Jewish  Experi- 
ence on  FiIm~An  American  Overview,"  a  penetrating  review  and  analysis  of  films, 
personalities,  and  trends.  Sociologists  Steven  J.  Gold  and  Bruce  Phillips  provide  an 
update  on  a  subject  of  continuing  interest,  "Israelis  in  the  United  States."  The 
authors  review  demographic  data  and  discuss  Israelis'  sense  of  marginality,  their 
creation  of  a  distinctive  subgroup  culture,  and  their  relationship  to  American  Jewish 
life,  among  other  topics. 

Jewish  life  in  the  United  States  is  covered  in  two  articles:  "National  Affairs,"  by 
Richard  T.  Foltin,  and  "Jewish  Communal  Affairs,"  by  Lawrence  Grossman. 

David  Horovitz  provides  extensive  coverage  of  events  in  Israel.  Reports  on  Jewish 
communities  around  the  world  include  Canada,  Mexico,  Argentina,  Great  Britain, 
the  Netherlands,  Italy,  Germany,  Austria,  East-Central  Europe,  the  former  Soviet 
Union,  Australia,  and  South  Africa. 

Updated  estimates  of  Jewish  population  are  provided-for  the  United  States,  by 
Barry  Kosmin  and  Jeffrey  Scheckner  of  the  North  American  Jewish  Data  Bank;  and 
for  the  world,  by  U.O.  Schmelz  and  Sergio  DellaPergoIa  of  the  Hebrew  University 
of  Jerusalem. 

Carefully  compiled  directories  of  national  Jewish  organizations,  periodicals,  and 
federations  and  welfare  funds,  as  well  as  religious  calendars  and  obituaries,  round 
out  the  1996  AMERICAN  JEWISH  YEAR  BOOK. 

We  note  with  sorrow  the  death  of  Uziel  (Oscar)  Schmelz,  at  the  age  of  77,  on 
September  20,  1995,  in  Jerusalem.  Co-author  of  the  annual  article  on  "World  Jewish 
Population"  since  1982,  Prof  Schmelz  was  on  the  staff  of  Israel's  Central  Bureau 
of  Statistics  and  professor  of  Jewish  demography  and  statistics  in  the  Hebrew 
University's  Institute  of  Contemporary  Jewry.  In  addition  to  his  research  on  world 
Jewish  demography,  he  published  studies  on  immigration  and  absorption  in  Israeli 
society,  the  population  of  Palestine  during  the  Ottoman  period,  and  the  polyglot 
inhabitants  of  Jerusalem,  the  city  that  was  his  great  love.  The  Vienna-bom  scholar 
was  a  humanist  of  the  European  school  and  an  expert  on  both  Western  and  Middle 
Eastern  cultures. 

We  gratefully  acknowledge  the  assistance  of  our  colleagues  Cyma  M.  Horowitz 
and  Michele  Anish  of  the  American  Jewish  Committee's  Blaustein  Library. 

The  Editors 


DEIDRE  BERGER:  Reporter,  National  Public  Radio;  Frankfurt,  Germany. 

HENRIETTE  BOAS:  Dutch  correspondent,  Jewish  Telegraphic  Agency  and  Israeli 
newspapers;  Amsterdam,  Holland. 

SERGIO  DELLAPERGOLA:  Chairman,  A.  Harman  Institute  of  Contemporary 
Jewry,  Hebrew  University  of  Jerusalem,  Israel. 

RICHARD  T.  FOLTIN:  Legislative  director  and  counsel.  Office  of  Government 
and  International  Affairs,  American  Jewish  Committee. 

ZVI GITELMAN:  Professor,  political  science,  and  Tisch  Professor  of  Judaic  Stud- 
ies, University  of  Michigan. 

STEVEN  J.  GOLD:  Associate  professor,  sociology,  Michigan  State  University. 

MURRAY  GORDON:  Consultant  to  NGOs  and  international  organizations;  ad- 
junct professor,  Austrian  Diplomatic  Academy,  Vienna,  Austria. 

LAWRENCE  GROSSMAN:  Director  of  publications,  American  Jewish  Commit- 

RUTH  ELLEN  GRUBER:  Veteran  foreign  correspondent  and  author,  specialist  in 
European  and  Jewish  affairs;  Morre,  Italy. 

DAVID  HOROVITZ:  Managing  editor.  The  Jerusalem  Report,  and  author;  Jerusa- 
lem, Israel. 

IGNACIO  KLICH:  Teacher,  Latin  American  history.  University  of  Westminster, 
London,  England. 

LIONEL  E.  KOCHAN:  historian,  Oxford  Centre  for  Hebrew  and  Jewish  Studies, 
Oxford,  England. 

MIRIAM  L.  KOCHAN:  freelance  writer,  translator;  Oxford,  England. 

BARRY  A.  KOSMIN:  director,  Mandell  L.  Berman  Institute-North  American 
Jewish  Data  Bank,  City  University  of  New  York  Graduate  Center;  director  of 
research.  Council  of  Jewish  Federations. 

BRUCE  A.  PHILLIPS:  Professor,  Jewish  communal  studies,  Hebrew  Union  Col- 
lege-Jewish Institute  of  Religion,  Los  Angeles. 

JOEL  ROSENBERG:  Associate  professor.  Judaic  studies  and  world  literature. 
Tufts  University. 


viii      /      CONTRIBUTORS 

HILARY  RUBINSTEIN:  Honorary  research  associate,  University  of  Melbourne, 
Australia;  freelance  historian;  Aberystwyth,  Wales. 

JEFFREY  SCHECKNER:  Administrator,  North  American  Jewish  Data  Bank, 
City  University  of  New  York  Graduate  Center;  research  consultant.  Council  of 
Jewish  Federations. 

U.O.  SCHMELZ:  Late  professor  emeritus,  Jewish  demography,  A.  Harman  Insti- 
tute of  Contemporary  Jewry,  Hebrew  University  of  Jerusalem,  Israel. 

MILTON  SHAIN:  Associate  professor,  Hebrew  and  Jewish  studies,  and  director, 
Kaplan  Centre  for  Jewish  Studies  and  Research,  University  of  Cape  Town,  South 

DINA  SIEGEL:  Executive  director,  Tribuna  Israelita,  human-relations  agency, 
Mexico  City,  Mexico. 

HAROLD  M.  WALLER:  professor,  political  science,  McGill  University;  director, 
Canadian  Center  for  Jewish  Community  Studies;  Montreal,  Canada. 







Jewish  Experience  on  Film — 

An  American  Overview 

Joel  Rosenberg 


Israelis  in  the  United 


Steven  J.  Gold 

and  Bruce  A.  Phillips 



National  Affairs 

Richard  T.  Foltin 


Jewish  Communal  Affairs 

Lawrence  Grossman 


Jewish  Population  in  the 
United  States,  1995 

Barry  A.  Kosmin 

and  Jejfrey  Scheckner    171 


X      /      CONTENTS 



Harold  M.  Waller 





Great  Britain 

The  Netherlands 


Federal  Republic  of  Germany 

East-Central  Europe 
Russia/Former  Soviet  Union 


WORLD  JEWISH  POPULATION,  1994      U.O.  Schmelz  and 

Sergio  DellaPergola 

Dina  Siegel 


Ignacio  Klich 


Miriam  and  Lionel 



Henriette  Boas 


Ruth  Ellen  Gruber 


Deidre  Berger 


Murray  Gordon 


Ruth  Ellen  Gruber 


Zvi  Gitelman 


Hilary  Rubinstein 


Milton  Shain 


David  Horovitz 



CONTENTS      /      xi 



United  States  467 

Canada  52 1 


United  States  525 

Canada  536 


United  States  537 

Canada  547 



5756-5760  (Sept.  1995-Aug.  2000)  568 


5755-5758  (1995-1998)  570 



INDEX  612 


Jewish  Experience  on  Film 
An  American  Overview 

by  Joel  Rosenberg 

r  OR  ONE  FAMILIAR  WITH  THE  long  history  of  Jewish  sacred 
texts,  it  is  fair  to  characterize  film  as  the  quintessential  profane  text.  Being 
tied  as  it  is  to  the  life  of  industrial  science  and  production,  it  is  the  first  truly 
posttraditional  art  medium  —  a  creature  of  gears  and  bolts,  of  lenses  and 
transparencies,  of  drives  and  brakes  and  projected  light,  a  creature  whose 
life  substance  is  spreadshot  onto  a  vast  ocean  of  screen  to  display  another 
kind  of  life  entirely:  the  images  of  human  beings;  stories;  purported  history; 
myth;  philosophy;  social  conflict;  politics;  love;  war;  belief.  Movies  seem  to 
take  place  in  a  domain  between  matter  and  spirit,  but  are,  in  a  sense, 
dependent  on  both.  Like  the  Golem  —  the  artificial  anthropoid  of  Jewish 
folklore,  a  creature  always  yearning  to  rise  or  reach  out  beyond  its  own 
materiality  —  film  is  a  machine  truly  made  in  the  human  image:  a  late-bom 
child  of  human  culture  that  manifests  an  inherently  stubborn  and  rebellious 
nature.  It  is  a  being  that  has  suffered,  as  it  were,  all  the  neuroses  of  its  mostly 
20th-century  rise  and  flourishing  and  has  shared  in  all  the  century's  treach- 
eries. It  is  in  this  context  above  all  that  we  must  consider  the  problematic 
subject  of  Jewish  experience  on  film. 

In  academic  research,  the  field  of  film  studies  has  now  blossomed  into  a 
richly  elaborate  body  of  criticism  and  theory,  although  its  reigning  schools 
of  thought  —  at  present,  heavily  influenced  by  Marxism,  Lacanian  psycho- 
analysis, and  various  flavors  of  deconstruction  —  have  often  preferred  the 
fashionable  habit  of  reasoning  by  decree  in  place  of  genuine  observation  and 
analysis.  Even  so,  the  resources  have  grown  immensely  since  the  1970s  for 
developing  a  more  sophisticated  approach  to  the  study  of  Jewish  experience 
on  film.  This  designation  for  the  subject  is  preferable  to  the  more  colloquial 
term  "Jewish  film,"  for  several  reasons.  First,  film  is  not  just  the  neutral 
instrument  of  various  national  cultures  expressing  themselves  in  art  —  it  is 
a  powerful  creation  of  human  imagination  and  technology  that  has,  in  some 
sense,  drawn  these  cultures  into  its  ongoing  life.  Then,  too,  film  is  a  vastly 
collaborative  art  that  is  inherently  multinational  and  multicultural  in  its 
practical  operations.  Scan  the  credits  of  any  film  and  you  will  see  that  even 
the  most  nationally  or  culturally  identified  films  are  indelibly  international, 
as  are  film's  visual  language  and  aesthetic  choices. 

4      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

Finally,  the  film  of  Jewish  experience  is  intimately  bound  up  with  the 
non- Jewish  world's  use  of  Jewish  experience  for  its  own  reflection.  Jews  in 
some  sense  participate  in  that  reflection  and  have  shaped  it  in  significant 
ways  —  but  we  are  dealing,  in  any  case,  with  an  intercultural  realm,  with 
the  larger  civil  society  in  which  Jews  dwell,  which  has  cultural  claims  of 
its  own.  Jewish  film  in  the  strict  sense  of  the  term  is  a  component  of  that 
whole.  But  the  representation  of  Jewish  experience  on  film,  which  extends 
far  beyond  Jewish  film  as  such,  is  an  important  subject  of  inquiry  in  its  own 
right,  which  is  only  now  gaining  the  serious  attention  of  Jewish  studies.' 

Clearly,  there  is  a  need  for  widening  our  conception  of  "Jewish  film"  to 
mean  more  than  simply  a  discourse  of  either  Jews  or  Gentiles;  more,  let  us 
say,  than  an  "image"  of  the  Jew,  considered  as  a  prepackaged  object  submit- 
ted for  Gentile  approval  or  disdain;  more,  even,  than  the  cultural  output 
of  various  Jewish  societies.  Rather,  the  presence  of  the  Jew  in  film  needs 
to  be  rethought  in  the  context  of  cinema  history  as  a  whole  and  set  against 
the  major  crises  and  disasters  of  the  20th  century,  especially  the  Jewish 
catastrophe  in  Europe. 

Film  grew  up,  as  it  were,  as  an  older  sibling  of  modem  totalitarianism, 
and  of  the  Holocaust  itself.  The  ideological  exploitation  of  film  by  Nazi 
Germany  and,  throughout  the  same  era,  by  the  Soviet  Union,  was  only  a 
more  conscious  instance  of  a  process  long  in  place  in  the  cinema  of  the 
bourgeois  democracies.  In  those  societies,  film  worked,  usually  uncon- 
sciously, in  harmony  with  existing  social  institutions,  and  the  dictates  of 
censorship  (typically  motivated  by  churches,  schools,  and  civic  and  political 
groups)  were  fairly  early  internalized  in  film  practice  by  the  film  industry 
itself.  One  can  of  course  learn  a  great  deal  by  studying  the  representation 
of  the  Jew  in  the  cinema  of  Nazi  Germany.^  But  cinema  outside  of  Nazi 
Germany,  and  on  other  subjects  than  the  Holocaust  or  Jewish  life,  must  be 
studied  as  well  —  not  so  much  to  weigh  the  accuracy  or  inaccuracy,  the 
degree  of  sympathy  or  hostility,  in  its  representation  of  Jews  (these  issues 
have  predominated  in  an  older  generation  of  Jewish  film  studies),  but  for 
its  systematic  connections  to  the  unfolding  of  20th-century  history,  to  the 
development  of  the  film  medium  itself,  and  to  the  broader  problems  of  race, 
class,  nation,  and  ethnicity  in  modern  times. 

'See,  e.g.,  Charles  Berlin,  ed.,  Jewish  Film  and  Jewish  Studies:  Proceedings  of  a  Conference 
Held  at  Harvard  University  on  November  13  -  14,  1989,  on  the  Role  of  Jewish  Film  in  Teaching 
and  Research  in  Jewish  Studies  (Cambridge,  Mass.,  1991);  idem,  ed..  Guide  to  Judaica  Video- 
tapes in  the  Harvard  College  Library  (Cambridge,  Mass.,  1989);  Matthew  Stevens,  ed.,  Jewish 
Film  Directory:  A  guide  to  more  than  1200  films  of  Jewish  interest  from  32  countries  over  85 
years  (Westport,  Conn.,  1992);  Charles  Lawrence  Gellert,  ed..  The  Holocaust,  Israel,  and  the 
Jews:  Motion  Pictures  in  the  National  Archives  (Washington,  D.C.,  1989).  For  general  intro- 
ductions to  the  subject  in  its  American  setting,  see  note  4. 

^On  the  Jew  in  German  film  of  the  Nazi  era,  see,  e.g.,  David  Welch,  Propaganda  and  the 
German  Cinema,  1933-1945  (Oxford,  1983),  pp.  238-306. 

JEWISH     EXPERIENCE    ON    FILM      /      5 

What  one  needs  to  study  is  immense.  The  subject  encompasses  the  world 
output  of  cinema,  and  extends  all  the  way  back  to  the  era  of  primitive 
cinema,  when,  in  1903,  the  image  of  a  Jew  first  appeared  on  screen.  It 
requires  some  familiarity  with  film  theory,  past  and  present  —  a  vast  and 
often  daunting  thicket  of  reflection  that  draws  on  linguistics,  semiotics, 
psychoanalysis,  psychology  of  perception,  optics,  aesthetics,  art  history,  and 
other  disciplines.  It  properly  requires  a  knowledge  of  several  languages,  and 
of  film  scholarship  in  those  languages.  It  entails  familiarity  with  particular 
Jewish  film  industries,  such  as  Yiddish-language  and  Israeli  film.'  It  in- 
volves examination  and  comparison  of  changing  trends  in  fiction  film,  docu- 
mentary film,  and  political  propaganda  film.  It  entails  consideration  of  key 
junctures  in  film  history  when  technological  developments,  economic  and 
geopolitical  realities,  and  changes  in  production  methods,  stylistic  fashions, 
audience  composition,  and  public  tastes  and  moods  decisively  shaped  what 
was  seen  on  screen  and  how  it  was  seen.  It  involves  the  concurrent  histories 
of  the  film  representation  of  other  national,  ethnic,  and  social  groups.  And, 
of  course,  it  requires  knowledge  of  modem  Jewish  and  world  history,  of  the 
history  of  anti-Semitism,  of  the  rise  and  fall  of  Nazism,  of  the  planning, 
enactment,  and  aftermath  of  the  "Final  Solution,"  of  survivor  experience, 
and  the  vast  realm  of  postwar  reflection  and  debate  on  the  Holocaust  and 
its  representation. 

Moreover,  beyond  the  immense  range  of  subjects  and  disciplines  de- 
ployed, several  kinds  of  understanding  are  required,  including  intuition. 
One  must  develop  a  feel  for  the  nuances  of  individual  films  in  their  sensuous 
immediacy  —  of  directorial  style  and  gesture,  of  the  impact  of  specific 
actors,  of  an  era's  peculiar  visual  and  auditory  patina.  It  is  impossible,  for 
example,  to  evaluate  the  meaning  and  satirical  impact  of  Ernst  Lubitsch's 
anti-Nazi  burlesque.  To  Be  or  Not  To  Be  (1942),  without  savoring  the 
particular  comic  genius  of  Jack  Benny,  Carole  Lombard,  Felix  Bressart,  and 
Sig  Ruman.  It  is  impossible  to  separate  the  meaning  of  The  Jazz  Singer 
(1927)  from  specific  choices  in  the  casting  and  playing  of  it  —  Jolson's 
spiritedly  flirtatious  hyperactivity.  May  McAvoy's  wide-eyed,  nubile  sweet- 
ness, or  Eugenie  Besserer's  flustered  stammers  of  maternal  delight  —  and 
from  the  film's  choppy  interplay  of  orchestral  theme  music,  sound  perform- 
ance, dialogue,  and  intertitle.  It  involves  reconstructing  what  an  audience 
might  have  heard  when  they  were  told  by  Al  Jolson:  "Wait  a  minute 
.  .  .  wait  a  minute.  .  .  .  you  ain't  heard  nothin'  yet!" 

'These  two  important  topics  are  beyond  the  scope  of  the  present  essay,  which  will  focus  on 
English-language  American  film.  On  Yiddish  film,  see  J.  Hoberman,  Bridge  of  Light:  Yiddish 
Film  Between  Two  Worlds  (New  York,  1991);  Judith  N.  Goldberg,  Laughter  Through  Tears: 
The  Yiddish  Cinema  (Rutherford,  N.J.,  1983);  Eric  A.  Goldman,  Visions.  Images,  and  Dreams: 
Yiddish  Film  Past  and  Present  (Ann  Arbor,  1983).  On  Israeli  film,  see  Ella  Shohat,  Israeli 
Cinema:  East /West  and  the  Politics  of  Representation  (Austin,  Tex.,  1987). 

6   /   AMERICAN  JEWISH  YEAR  BOOK,  1996 

Some  film  theoreticians  assert  that  intellectually  rigorous  work  on  film 
(of  the  sort  purportedly  introduced  by  the  revolution  in  film  theory  that 
started  in  the  late  1960s)  is  a  fundamentally  different  labor  from  that  of  the 
cinephile  —  that  is,  the  critic,  historian,  or  film  interpreter  who  proceeds 
chiefly  from  a  love  of  film  art  and  an  interest  in  the  oeuvre  of  particular 
filmmakers.  But  it  is  precisely  the  love  of  film  art  —  in  its  full  range  and 
variety,  in  its  historical  specificity,  in  its  susceptibility  to  the  individual 
genius  of  particular  directors,  actors,  scenarists,  cinematographers,  editors, 
and  scorers,  in  its  abihty  to  foster  enhanced  perception  and  empathy  in  its 
viewers,  to  capture  the  minds  and  hearts  of  audiences,  to  epitomize  the 
mood  of  an  era,  and  to  focus  moral  and  ethical  attention  on  the  stream  of 
human  experience  —  that  is  vital  to  any  informed  writing  about  it. 

Film  Representation  of  Jews:  The  American  Setting 

Historical  study  of  the  film  representation  of  Jews  is  indebted  to  two 
works  in  particular  that  have  laid  a  useful  groundwork,  at  least  for  under- 
standing the  American  component  of  the  subject:  Lester  D.  Friedman's 
Hollywood's  Image  of  the  Jew  (along  with  its  coffee-table  counterpart, 
Friedman's  The  Jewish  Image  in  American  Film,  an  illustrated  popular 
history)  and  Patricia  Erens'  The  Jew  in  American  Cinema.*  Both  authors 
cover  a  vast  range  of  film  examples  from  the  silent  era  to  the  early  1980s 
and  attempt  to  periodize  the  subject,  largely  by  decades,  at  least  for  the 
latter  half  of  this  history.  These  works  serve  as  a  valuable  inventory  of 
historical  examples  and  a  useful  compendium  of  conventional  wisdom  on 
the  historical  forces  shaping  cinematic  representation  of  the  Jew.  The  de- 
mands of  comprehensiveness  have  led  both  authors  to  sacrifice  much  depth 
and  specificity,  offering  little  in  the  way  of  sustained  analysis  and  interpreta- 
tion of  an  individual  film  as  text,  and  virtually  no  attempt  at  systematic 
correlation  of  their  insights  with  the  problematics  of  general  film  history 
and  theory.  Their  studies,  properly  speaking,  belong  to  an  older  trend 
in  ethnic  and  feminist  film  studies,  generally  characterized  as  the  "images 
of  .  .  .  "  approach,  which  weighed  the  relative  degrees  of  accuracy  or 
stereotype  in  depiction  of  Jews,  blacks,  Asians,  Hispanics,  women,  and 
others  in  given  films  and  eras,  usually  animated  by  an  informal  partisanship 
on  behalf  of  the  group,  class,  or  gender  being  studied.' 

'Lester  D.  Friedman,  Hollywood's  Image  of  the  Jew  (New  York,  1982);  idem.  The  Jewish 
Image  in  American  Film  (Secaucus,  N.J.,  1987);  Patricia  Erens,  The  Jew  in  American  Cinema 
(Bloomington,  Ind.,  1984).  See  also  Sarah  Blacher  Cohen,  From  Hester  Street  to  Hollywood: 
The  Jewish-American  Stage  and  Screen  (Bloomington,  Ind.,  1983);  David  Desser  and  Lester 
Friedman,  American  Jewish  Filmmakers  and  the  Jewish  Experience  (Urbana,  111.,  1992);  and 
the  filmography  of  Stuart  Fox,  Jewish  Films  in  the  United  States:  A  Comprehensive  Survey  and 
Descriptive  Filmography  (Boston,  1976),  as  well  as  sources  cited  in  notes  1  and  7. 

'On  image  studies  and  their  premises,  cf.  David  Bordwell,  Making  Meaning:  Inference  and 

JEWISH     EXPERIENCE    ON    FILM      /      7 

The  organizing  premise  of  such  studies  is  therefore  somewhat  simple  and 
misleading,  but  their  importance  in  the  history  of  discourse  about  ethnicity 
in  film,  both  in  stimulating  popular  and  scholarly  interest  in  the  subject  and 
in  providing  a  broad  inventory  of  examples  and  trends,  should  not  be 
underestimated.  Moreover,  in  some  situations  it  is  indeed  still  vitally  impor- 
tant to  reflect  on  film  images,  provided  the  wider  issues  of  cultural  history 
are  kept  in  view.  In  fairness  to  Friedman  and  Erens,  it  should  also  be  noted 
that  both  authors  are  aware  of  the  limitations  of  their  format  and  the 
provisional  nature  of  their  conclusions. 

Our  indebtedness  to  both  Erens  and  Friedman  is,  in  any  case,  considera- 
ble, for  both  authors  have  articulated,  for  better  or  for  worse,  what  could 
be  called  a  consensus  view  of  the  Jewish  presence  in  American  film  and 
filmmaking,  as  mapped  out  by  numerous  investigators  in  film  history  and 
media  studies  over  the  past  several  decades,  and  that  view  has  proven  thus 
far  a  reasonably  durable  one.'  For  a  convenient  overview,  we  may  borrow, 
for  the  time  being,  Friedman's  and  Erens'  rather  simplified  decade  periodi- 
zations,  which  we  shall  have  reason  to  qualify  further  on.  Friedman  divides 
his  discussion  into  the  following  chapters  with,  it  turns  out,  obligatorily 
alliterative  names:  "The  Silent  Stereotypes,"  "The  Timid  Thirties,"  "The 
Fashionable  Forties,"  "The  Frightened  Fifties,"  "The  Self-Conscious  Six- 
ties," "The  Self-Centered  Seventies,"  and  (appropriately  tentative  for  two 
years  into  the  decade)  "The  Emerging  Eighties."  Erens'  periodization  is  a 
bit  soberer  and  more  articulated,  but  in  other  respects  similar:  "The  Primi- 
tive Years  (1903-1919),"  "The  Silent  Era  (1920-1929),"  "The  Early 
Sound  Years  (1930-  1940),"  "The  War  and  Postwar  Era  (1941  -  1949)," 
'The  Fifties  (1950-  I960),"  "The  Sixties  (1961  -  1969),"  "The  Seventies 
(1970-  1979),"  and  "Recent  Films  (1980-1983)."  Although  more  non- 
committal than  Friedman's  in  its  characterization  of  decades,  Erens'  peri- 
odization by  specific  years  at  least  shows  that  the  notion  of  "decade"  has 
a  sliding  definition. 

From  a  film-historical  standpoint,  in  any  case,  these  categories  are  of 
merely  provisional  value.  Major  changes  in  film  production,  cinematic 
styles,  ideological  perspectives,  and  patterns  of  audience  reception,  among 
other  factors,  often  cut  across  decade  boundaries,  and  it  is  probably  more 
accurate,  though  pedagogically  messier,  to  reckon  in  five-  to  seven-year, 
rather  than  ten-year,  cycles.  Erens  is  justified  in  defining  her  fourth  period 
in  terms  of  World  War  II  and  its  aftermath,  even  though  that  period 

Rhetoric  in  the  Interpretation  of  Cinema  (Cambridge,  Mass.,  1989),  pp.  89  -  90;  Robert  Stam, 
"Bakhtin,  Polyphony,  and  Ethnic/Racial  Representation,"  in  Unspeakable  Images:  Ethnicity 
and  the  American  Cinema,  ed.  Lester  D.  Friedman  (Urbana,  1991),  pp.  251  -  76,  esp.  251  - 

'Much  of  the  present  discussion  is  indebted  to  the  useful  overview  in  Frank  Manchel,  Film 
Study:  An  Analytical  Bibliography,  vol.  1  (Rutherford,  N.J./London,  1990),  pp.  818-51 
("The  Jew  in  American  Film"). 

8      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

encompasses  a  major  ideological  reversal  (as  a  consequence  of  events  lead- 
ing to  the  Hollywood  blacklist)  and  even  though  the  roots  of  the  war  itself, 
and  its  attendant  cinematic  expression,  go  back  at  least  two  decades  earlier. 
An  even  simpler  schema  than  either  Friedman's  or  Erens',  though  con- 
gruent with  the  substance  of  their  analysis,  has  been  offered  by  Stuart 
Samuels  in  his  essay  "The  Evolutionary  Image  of  the  Jew  in  American 
Film,"  which  correlates  cinematic  representation  of  the  Jew  with  four 
specific  stages  in  20th-century  American  Jewish  history:  ahenation,  accul- 
turation, assimilation,  and  acceptance.'  This  schema,  or  its  substance,  is 
shared,  in  one  form  or  another,  by  a  wide  variety  of  investigators  who 
regard  the  motion-picture  industry  as  a  central  force  in  the  socialization  of 
immigrant  Americans,  virtually  down  to  our  own  day,  and  it  has  influenced 
to  some  degree  the  present  survey.  But  all  existing  paradigms  require 
qualification  and  refinement,  as  we  shall  see. 

Alienation  and  Its  Pleasures 

The  earliest  phase,  which  Samuels  has  dubbed  a  period  of  "alienation," 
corresponds  to  the  period  of  New  World  immigrant  life  in  the  early  decades 
of  this  century,  when  the  mainly  Yiddish-speaking  East  European  Jews 
lived  as  a  ghettoized  minority  among  other  immigrant  minorities,  in  large 
urban  areas,  often  in  conditions  of  severe  poverty,  pursuing  small-scale 
entrepreneurship  and  trades,  and  representing  a  bold  contrast  both  to  the 
Anglo-Saxon  mainstream  of  American  culture  and  to  the  largely  assimi- 
lated and  prosperous  German  and  Sephardic  Jews  who  had  been  absorbed 
into  American  life  decades  earlier.  During  this  period,  filmmaking  was  still 
in  an  experimental  phase,  an  amusement-park  or  nickelodeon  entertain- 
ment whose  production  was  still  largely  controlled  by  the  Edison  trust,  a 
monopoly  tied  to  patents  on  motion-picture  technology.' 

In  this  earliest  phase,  stereotyped  images  of  Jews,  often  borrowed  from 
literature  and  theater,  appeared  frequently  in  the  primitive  narratives  of 
one-  and  two-reeler  diversions:  the  pawnbroker,  the  money-lender,  the 
haberdasher,  and  the  like.  These  Jews,  obviously  enough,  were  shown  as 
"outsiders,"  but  perhaps  no  more  so  than  other  ethnic  types  displayed  in 

'Stuart  Samuels,  "The  Evolutionary  Image  of  the  Jew  in  American  Film,"  in  Ethnic  Images 
in  American  Film  and  Television,  ed.  Allen  L.  Wohl  and  Randall  Miller  (Philadelphia,  1978). 
Cf.  Manchel,  Film  Study,  p.  819. 

Tor  discussion  of  the  primitive  period  of  American  film  history,  see  Charles  Musser,  The 
Emergence  of  Cinema:  The  American  Screen  to  1907,  vol.  1  oi  History  of  the  American  Cinema, 
ed.  Charles  Harpole  (Berkeley,  1990);  Miriam  Hansen,  Babel  and  Babylon:  Spectatorship  in 
American  Silent  Film  (Cambridge,  Mass.,  1991),  esp.  pp.  23  -  59;  John  Fell,  ed..  Film  Before 
Griffith  (Berkeley,  1983);  Larry  May,  Screening  Out  the  Past:  The  Birth  of  Mass  Culture  and 
the  Motion  Picture  Industry  (Chicago,  1980),  pp.  3-21. 

JEWISH     EXPERIENCE    ON    FILM      /      9 

the  films,  and  to  some  degree  all  film  characters  in  these  early  films  were 
stereotypes.'  The  nickelodeons  and  exhibition  houses,  moreover,  were  often 
filled  with  immigrant  audiences  who  eagerly  devoured  the  entertainment 
fare,  taking  great  pleasure  in  beholding  the  screen  images  of  their  respective 
ethnic  kinfolk.  While  the  notion  of  "immigrant  entertainment"  has  often 
been  overemphasized  in  descriptions  of  this  period  (primitive  cinema  was 
in  fact  already  targeted  as  much  to  native-born,  middle-class  recipients  as 
to  an  immigrant  and  working-class  clientele),'"  the  success  of  early  films 
with  immigrant  spectators  played  a  decisive  role  in  shaping  the  ensuing 
phases  of  American  film  history. 

Architects  of  Acculturation:  The  Studio  Moguls 

A  second  phase,  which  Samuels  has  dubbed  a  period  of  "acculturation," 
corresponds  to  the  beginning  of  a  long  period  of  upward  social  mobility  for 
the  offspring  of  immigrant  Jews,  from  about  1907  onward,  and  it  seems 
inseparable  from  two  important  developments  in  the  entertainment  indus- 
try: the  rise  of  Jewish  entertainers  in  vaudeville,  theater,  film,  and  radio 
(these  eventually  included  Al  Jolson,  Sophie  Tucker,  Fanny  Brice,  Eddie 
Cantor,  George  Jessel,  George  Burns,  and  the  Marx  Brothers);"  and  the  rise 
of  a  small  group  of  ambitious  Jewish  entrepreneurs  who  helped  to  break  the 
grip  of  the  Edison  trust  and  created  a  powerful  system  of  film  production 

'Cf.  Lester  D.  Friedman,  "The  Conversion  of  the  Jews,"  Film  Comment  17,  no.  4  (July- 
Aug.  1981),  p.  42;  Manchel,  Film  Study,  p.  823;  Charles  Musser,  "Ethnicity,  Role-Playing, 
and  American  Film  Comedy:  From  Chinese  Laundry  Scene  to  Whoopee  (1894-  1930),"  in 
Friedman,  Unspeakable  Images,  pp.  39-81,  esp.  47. 

'"See  Hansen.  Babel  and  Babylon,  pp.  68  -  70. 

"See,  among  others,  Irving  Howe,  World  of  Our  Fathers:  The  Journey  of  the  East  European 
Jews  to  America  and  the  Life  They  Found  and  Made  (New  York,  1 976),  pp.  556  -  73;  Stephen 
J.  Whitfield,  Voices  of  Jacob,  Hands  of  Esau:  Jews  in  American  Life  and  Thought  (Hamden, 
Conn.,  1984),  pp.  1 15  -  39;  Stanley  Green,  The  Great  Clowns  of  Broadway  (New  York,  1984); 
Darryl  Lyman,  The  Jewish  Comedy  Catalog  (Middle  Village,  N.Y.,  1989);  Steve  Seidman, 
Comedian  Comedy:  A  Tradition  in  Hollywood  Cinema  (Ann  Arbor,  Mich.,  1981);  William 
Novak  and  Moshe  Waldoks,  The  Big  Book  of  Jewish  Humor  (New  York,  1981);  Jack  Benny, 
with  Joan  Benny,  Sunday  Nights  at  Seven:  The  Jack  Benny  Story  (New  York,  1990);  Herbert 
G.  Goldman,  Fanny  Brice:  The  Original  Funny  Girl  (New  York,  1992);  Barbara  W.  Grossman, 
Funny  Woman:  The  Life  and  Times  of  Fanny  Brice  (Bloomington,  Ind.,  1991);  Martin  Gott- 
fried, George  Burns  and  the  Hundred-Yard  Dash  (New  York,  1996);  Eddie  Cantor,  The  Way 
/S'ee//,ed.  Phyllis  Rosenteur(Englewood  Cliffs,  N.J.,  1959);  George  Jessel,  with  John  Austin, 
The  World  I  Lived  in  (Chicago,  1975);  James  Fisher,  Al  Jolson:  A  Bio-Bibliography  (Westport, 
Conn.,  1994);  Herbert  G.  Goldman,  Jolson:  The  Legend  Comes  to  Life  (New  York,  1988);  Wes 
D.  Gehring,  The  Marx  Brothers:  A  Bio-Bibliography  (New  York,  1978);  Kyle  Samuels  Crich- 
ton,  The  Marx  Brothers  (Garden  City,  N.Y.,  1950);  Michael  Friedland,  Sophie:  The  Sophie 
Tucker  Story  (London,  1978).  For  the  impact  on  American  film,  see  Henry  Jenkins,  What 
Made  Pistachio  Nuts?  American  Sound  Film  and  the  Vaudeville  Aesthetic  (New  York,  1992). 

10     /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

and  distribution  through  the  founding  and  running  of  the  great  Hollywood 
studios.'^  These  included  MGM  (Marcus  Loew,  Joseph  Schenck,  Samuel 
Goldwyn,  Louis  B.  Mayer),  Paramount  (Adolf  Zukor,  Jesse  Lasky,  B.  P. 
Schulberg),  Columbia  (Harry  and  Jack  Cohn),  Warner  Brothers  (Jack  and 
Harry  Warner),  Universal  Pictures  (Carl  Laemmle,  and  his  celebrated  un- 
derling Irving  Thalberg),  and  20th  Century  (Joseph  Schenck),  later  merged 
with  Fox  (William  Fox).  These  founders  were  immigrants  or  children  of 
immigrants,  and  all  were  Jews.  One  other  major  studio  formed  in  this 
period.  United  Artists,  was  the  creation  of  non-Jews:  Charlie  Chaplin, 
D.  W.  Griffith,  Mary  Pickford,  and  the  half- Jew  Douglas  Fairbanks  — 
performers  whose  role  in  both  studio  and  cinematic  history  was  similarly 
crucial,  especially  as  a  force  for  shaping  the  film  star  system. 

Possessing  little  formal  education  but  a  vast  amount  of  experience  as 
entrepreneurs  (Goldwyn  had  started  as  a  glovemaker  and  salesman;  Mayer 
as  a  scrap-metal  and  junk  dealer;  Zukor  and  Harry  Cohn  as  furriers;  Jack 
Warner  as  a  cobbler,  butcher,  and  bicycle  merchant;  Laemmle  as  a  book- 
keeper and  clothier;  Fox  as  a  sundries  peddler  and,  later,  as  a  clothier; 
Schenck  as  a  drugstore-chain  owner  and  amusement-park  impresario; 
Schulberg  as  a  reporter  and  trade  publisher),  the  studio  pioneers  were  quick 
to  sense  the  mass  appeal  of  films,  and  they  correctly  understood  that  the 
success  of  the  industry  depended  on  building  a  viable  system  of  distribution, 
through  firm  links  between  studios  and  theater  chains,  as  well  as  important 
financial  links,  largely  with  Jewish-owned  banking  houses  —  among  others, 
Warner  Brothers  with  Goldman  Sachs,  Paramount  with  Kuhn  and  Loeb, 
and  Universal  with  S.  W.  Strauss."  In  the  heyday  of  the  studio  system,  from 
the  1920s  to  the  1950s,  the  studio  heads  maintained  a  legendarily  despotic 
control  over  the  careers  of  actors,  directors,  and  screenwriters,  severely 
reining  in  artistic  freedom  and  retaining  an  often  fatal  final  say  about  what 
survived  on  screen. 

Much  has  been  made  of  their  boorish  sensibilities  and  Philistine  tastes 
(Harry  Cohn  was  notorious  for  his  ruthlessness,  vulgarity,  and  lechery; 

'^See,  among  others,  Jan-Christopher  Horak,  Dream  Merchants:  Making  and  Selling  Films 
in  Hollywood's  Golden  Age  (Rochester,  N.Y.:  International  Museum  of  Photography  at 
George  Eastman  House,  1989);  Neal  Gabler,  An  Empire  of  Their  Own:  How  the  Jews  Invented 
Hollywood  (New  York,  1988);  Bernard  F.  Dick,  The  Merchant  Prince  of  Poverty  Row:  Harry 
Cohn  of  Columbia  (Lexington,  Ky.,  1993);  A.  Scott  Berg,  Goldwyn:  A  Biography  (New  York, 
1989);  Diana  Altman,  Hollywood  East:  Louis  B.  Mayer  and  the  Origins  of  the  Studio  System 
(New  York,  1992);  Samuel  Marx,  Mayer  and  Thalberg:  The  Make-Believe  Saints  (New  York, 
1975);  Bosley  Crowther,  Hollywood  Rajah:  The  Life  and  Times  of  Louis  B.  Mayer  (New  York, 
1980);  Jesse  Lasky,  What  Ever  Happened  to  Hollywood?  (New  York,  1975);  Irwin  Will,  The 
House  That  Shadows  Built  (Garden  City,  N.Y.,  1928);  Roland  Flamini,  Thalberg:  The  Last 
Tycoon  and  the  World  of  MGM  (New  York,  1974);  Bob  Thomas,  Thalberg:  Life  and  Legend 
(Garden  City,  N.Y.,  1969);  Cass  Warner  Sperling,  Hollywood  Be  Thy  Name:  The  Warner 
Brothers  Story  (Rocklin,  Calif.,  1994).  See  also  Manchel,  Film  Study,  p.  820fr. 

"See  Manchel,  Film  Study,  p.  821. 

JEWISH     EXPERIENCE    ON    FILM      /      11 

Samuel  Goldwyn,  a  Polish  Jew  who  never  mastered  English  well,  spawned 
a  vast  folklore  of  "Goldwynisms,"  often  apocryphal  malapropisms  such  as 
"Include  me  out,"  and  "Anyone  seeing  a  psychiatrist  should  have  his  head 
examined").'''  But  it  is  also  true  that  the  studio  pioneers  played  a  crucial 
role  in  defining  and  refining  the  storytelling  function  of  film,  which,  prior 
to  1907,  had  been  mixed  with  such  nonliterary  amusements  as  travelogue 
and  natural-history  lectures,  live  musical  entertainment,  circus  perform- 
ances, vaudeville  acts,  and  the  like.  Zukor,  for  example,  traveled  to  Europe 
to  survey  filmmaking  art  and  explored  the  potential  of  film  to  adapt  theatri- 
cal and  literary  classics."  Recent  research  on  American  film  history  has 
placed  strong  emphasis  on  1907  to  1915  as  the  years  of  transition  from 
primitive  to  classical  narrative  film,  to  that  crucially  influential  form  of  film 
expression  known  as  "the  classical  Hollywood  style,"  and  this  period  coin- 
cides with  the  rise  of  the  Jewish  film  moguls  and  the  studio  system." 

During  this  period,  two-reelers  became  three-reelers.  Film  entertainment 
was  disengaged  from  live  entertainment  and  largely  constrained  to  single- 
and  double-feature  exhibition  in  darkened  theaters  before  (mostly)  quiet, 
attentive  audiences,  and  later  supplemented  by  newsreels,  cartoons,  and 
short  subjects.  Film  editing  was  refined  to  facilitate  narrative  continuity  and 
to  preserve  unities  of  space,  time,  and  action.  Film  music  (at  first  an  impro- 
vised art  of  skilled  theater  organists  and  other  musicians;  later,  in  the 
transition  to  the  sound  era,  a  formally  composed  score  as  a  fixed  part  of  the 
soundtrack)  was  developed  to  underscore  carefully  movements  and  mo- 
ments in  the  plot.  In  general,  film  spectatorship  as  such,  in  familiar  contours 
that  have  persisted  to  the  present  day,  was  born.  The  methods  of  film 
production  as  a  complexly  collaborative  art,  and  film  distribution  as  a 
mass-market  enterprise,  were  decisively  shaped.  It  was  during  this  period 
that  Hollywood,  California,  became  the  capital  of  the  American  film  indus- 
try, and,  indeed,  a  world  capital  of  film  art.  It  was  the  seat  of  a  highly 
coordinated  system  ruled  by  the  mostly  Jewish  studio  moguls;  in  a  certain 
sense  it  was  an  industry  ideally  susceptible  to  the  genius  of  ambitious 
immigrants,  Jewish  and  otherwise,  and  later  of  other  European  emigres  of 
many  nationalities,  who  populated  all  echelons  of  the  film-production  sys- 

"These  examples  are  from  Ephraitn  Katz,  The  Film  Encyclopedia  (New  York,  1979),  s.v. 
"Goldwyn,  Samuel,"  p.  491. 

"Gabler,  An  Empire  of  Their  Own,  p.  28. 

"The  most  comprehensive  overview  of  the  classical  Hollywood  style  is  David  Bordwell, 
Janet  Staiger,  and  Kristin  Thompson,  The  Classical  Hollywood  Cinema:  Film  Style  and  Mode 
of  Production  to  1960  (New  York,  1985).  On  the  period  of  transition  from  primitive  film,  see 
Eileen  Bowser,  The  Transformation  of  Cinema,  1907-  1915,  vol.  2  o(  History  of  the  American 
Cinema,  ed.  Charles  Harpole  (Berkeley,  1990),  and  the  sources  cited  in  note  8. 

"On  European  emigres  in  Hollywood,  see  Graham  Petrie,  Hollywood  Destinies:  European 
Directors  in  America,  1922  -  1931  (London,  1985);  John  Russell  Taylor,  Strangers  in  Paradise: 

12      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

It  is  highly  misleading  to  see  in  this  phenomenon  merely  the  formation 
of  a  Jewish  cabal  of  ruthless  and  powerful  business  interests  acting,  as  it 
were,  in  a  vacuum  —  sealed  off  from  broader  currents  in  American  history 
of  the  time.  It  should  be  seen  in  the  context  of  the  Progressive  Era  and 
against  the  background  of  European  immigration  to  America  in  the  great 
age  of  open  doors  between  the  1880s  and  the  early  1920s."  Film  art  fortui- 
tously coincided  with  the  complex  formation  of  bourgeois  ideology  in 
Europe  and  America  in  this  period  —  it  was  in  some  sense  its  inevitable 
harvest."  The  birth  of  the  film  spectator  was  an  integral  part  of  this  process, 
and,  in  the  United  States,  bespoke  the  formation  of  a  genuinely  cross- 
cultural  (though  surely  also  distorted  and  problem-laden)  American  iden- 
tity. The  rapidly  maturing  film  theater,  soon  to  blossom  into  the  ornately 
architectured  and  furnished  "film  palace,"  became  a  great  leveler  of  race, 
ethnicity,  and  gender  —  creating  an  audience  mostly  invisible  and  anony- 
mous to  one  another,  set  into  a  kind  of  temple  where  hght  shone  in  the 
darkness,  where  people  went,  as  they  continue  to  do  today,  to  escape  the 
prisons  of  identity  and  constraints  of  reality,  to  forsake  their  bodies  and 
merge  themselves  with  screen  idols  in  tales  of  romance,  adventure,  comedy, 
and  tragedy. 

Clearly,  film  catered  to  fundamental  human  yearnings,  to  the  power  of 
fantasy  as  such.  In  this  manner,  it  was  a  potent  vehicle  of  acculturation  in 
an  America  undergoing  an  intolerably  rapid  pace  of  economic  development 
and  urbanization,  with  inexorably  painful  ethnic,  class,  and  familial  disloca- 
tions and  proximities.  Film  entertainment  in  this  sense  was  surely  a  medium 
of  escape,  but  also,  to  be  fair  to  its  premises,  potentially  an  arena  of  healing, 
of  mediation,  of  consensus,  of  ideological  experimentation,  empathizing  and 
ethical  reflection,  and,  at  times  of  confrontation  —  a  place  for  the  articula- 

The  Hollywood  Emigres.  1933-1950  (London,  1983);  John  Baxter,  The  Hollywood  Exiles 
(New  York,  1976). 

"See,  among  others,  Howe,  IVo  rid  of  Our  Fathers,  pp.  31-34,  50-57,  395-413;  Richard 
Hofstadter,  The  Age  of  Reform  from  Bryan  to  F.  D.  R.  (New  York,  1955),  pp.  1 74  -  86;  Gerald 
Sorin,/4  Time  for  Building:  The  Third  Migration.  1880-  1920  (Baltimore,  1992);  MaldwinA. 
Jones,  American  Immigration  (Chicago,  1992);  Roger  Daniels,  Coming  to  America:  A  History 
of  Immigration  and  Ethnicity  in  American  Life  (New  York,  1992);  George  E.  Pozzeta,  ed.. 
Assimilation.  Acculturation,  and  Social  Mobility  (New  York,  1990);  Oscar  Handlin,  The 
Uprooted,  2nd  ed.  (Boston,  1990);  Moses  Rischin,  ed.,  Immigration  and  the  American  Tradi- 
tion (Indianapolis,  1976);  Leonard  Dinnerstein,  Ethnic  Americans:  A  History  of  Immigration 
and  Assimilation  (New  York,  1975). 

"See,  among  others,  Peter  Gay,  The  Bourgeois  Experience  from  Victoria  to  Freud,  4  vols. 
(New  York,  1984  onward);  Carolyn  Howe,  Political  Ideology  and  Class  Formation:  A  Study 
of  the  Middle  Class  (Westport,  Conn.,  1992);  Joan  Shelley  Rubin,  The  Making  of  Middlebrow 
Culture  (Chapel  Hill,  N.C.,  1992);  Anne  Friedberg,  Window  Shopping:  Cinema  and  the 
Postmodern  (Berkeley,  1992),  esp.  pp.  15  -  106;  Walter  Benjamin,  "A  Berlin  Chronicle"  and 
"Paris,  Capital  of  the  Nineteenth  Century,"  in  idem,  Reflections:  Essays,  Aphorisms,  Autobio- 
graphical Writings,  ed.  Peter  Demetz  (New  York,  1978),  pp.  3-60,  146-62. 

JEWISH     EXPERIENCE    ON    FILM      /      13 

tion,  as  philosopher  Stanley  Cavell  has  suggested,  of  a  democratized 
"poetry  of  the  ordinary,"  which  Cavell  equated  with  the  noblest  tasks  of 

That  the  Jewish  film  moguls  sensed  this  possibility  in  its  wider  intellectual 
and  cultural  ramifications  is  highly  unlikely,  but  they  did  sense  it  instinctu- 
ally  and  devoted  their  life  energies  to  its  realization.  As  talented  immigrants 
who  had  dissolved  and  rebuilt  their  own  cultural  identity,  they  were  opti- 
mally suited  to  be  the  Promethean  shapers  of  this  newest  art,  and  they  were 
situated  at  an  appropriate  distance  from  American  culture  that  enabled 
them  to  manipulate,  usually  with  extreme  caution,  its  prevaihng  symbols 
and  myths.  It  is  in  this  context  that  we  must  understand  their  profoundly 
assimilationist  stance.  The  America  created  by  the  Jewish  movie  moguls 
was,  especially  in  the  sound  era,  a  WASPA'ankee  paradise  of  small  towns 
and  picket  fences,  of  milk  bottles  on  doorsteps,  of  crowing  roosters  and 
friendly  neighbors,  of  cantankerously  upright  justices  of  the  peace,  of 
Horatio  Algerish  boys  with  slingshots  in  their  back  pockets,  of  soldiers 
marching  off  to  distant  war  —  an  America  of  Norman  Rockwell  paintings, 
of  Life,  Liberty,  and  the  Saturday  Evening  Post.  Whatever  non-Anglo 
ethnicity  was  portrayed  —  and  it  was  extensively  portrayed  —  throughout 
Hollywood  film's  formative  period,  from  the  Golden  Age  of  the  silent  screen 
(1915-  1928)  through  the  great  classic  era  of  talkies  (ca.  1928-  I960),  it 
was  usually  as  counterpoint  to  a  mainstream,  or,  more  properly.  Main 
Street,  American  type,  whose  fabled  decency  triumphed  over  all  obstacles 
and  toward  whom  all  identities  flowed  and  merged.  The  material  capital  of 
American  film  was  Hollywood,  but  its  spiritual  capital,  as  Cavell  has  sug- 
gested for  screwball  comedy,  was  a  mythical  land  known  as  Connecticut,^' 
that  Eden  of  the  Yankee  social  register.  In  the  same  era,  a  comparable  aura 
surrounded  Kansas,  the  American  heartland,  most  memorably  in  the  1939 
classic  The  Wizard  of  Oz}^ 

Still,  American  film,  particularly  of  the  silent  era,  was  deeply  preoccupied 
with  the  tale  of  the  immigrant  —  of  Cohens  and  Kellys,  of  Abie's  Irish 
Rose,  of  industrious  street  urchins  and  sweatshop  maidens,  of  ruthless 
landlords,  enterprising  marriage  brokers,  and  hand-wringing  balabustas, 
and  above  all,  of  the  ambitious  seeker  of  prosperity,  the  parvenu  in  the 
making,  the  urban  newcomer  who  by  pluck  and  providence  crosses  ethnic 

"Stanley  Cavell,  "The  Thought  of  Movies,"  in  idem.  Themes  from  Out  of  School:  Effects 
and  Causes  (San  Francisco,  1984),  pp.  3-26,  esp.  14-19. 

"Stanley  Cavell,  Pursuits  of  Happiness:  The  Hollywood  Comedy  of  Remarriage  (Cambridge, 
Mass.,  1981),  p.  49. 

"Cf.  Paul  Nathanson,  Over  the  Rainbow:  The  Wizard  of  Oz  as  a  Secular  Myth  of  America 
(Albany,  1991). 

14      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

and  class  lines  to  realize  the  American  Dream.  A  classic  example  of  this 
story  is  The  Jazz  Singer  (1927),  usually  remembered  as  the  first  sound  film 
(sound  and  dialogue  were  in  fact  used  only  for  the  musical  numbers,  though 
memorably  in  one  semi-improvised  exchange  of  talk),  but  whose  engrossing 
tale  of  the  rise  of  a  cantor's  son  to  show-business  stardom  captured  the 
hearts  of  American  audiences  just  as  the  Jew  was  largely  about  to  disappear 
from  the  American  screen." 

An  interesting  evolution  in  the  tale  of  the  Jewish  immigrant  seems  to  have 
occurred  from  1920  to  1928  —  it  can  be  seen  by  contrasting  the  remarkable 
1920  film  Hungry  Hearts  with  The  Jazz  Singer.  In  the  former,  a  Jewish 
immigrant  mother,  living  in  a  squalid  New  York  City  tenement,  is  gouged 
repeatedly  for  rent  money  by  her  cruel,  stony-faced  landlord,  who  threatens 
to  evict  her.  In  a  gesture  of  stark  despair,  the  woman  goes  berserk  and 
destroys  her  apartment,  chopping  the  walls  into  pieces  with  an  axe.  She  is 
later  arrested,  tried,  and  acquitted,  but  the  haunting  power  of  her  despair 
lingers,  and  her  strikingly  Luddite  form  of  rebellion  (here  directed  not  at 
the  machines  of  production  but  at  property)  cannot  be  erased  from  mind. 
Acculturation  clearly  had  its  price,  and  this  story  was  meant  to  show  it.  In 
The  Jazz  Singer,  entertainer  Jake  Rabinowitz  (Al  Jolson)  is  torn  between 
appearing  in  the  opening  night  of  a  Broadway  show  on  Yom  Kippur  (his 
first  and  best  chance  at  stardom)  and  filling  in  for  his  dying  cantor  father 
by  singing  Kol  Nidre  in  the  synagogue.  The  film  solves  the  dilemma  by 
having  him  do  both:  first  cantoring  and,  on  a  subsequent  night,  resuming 
his  role  in  the  Broadway  show.  The  film  seems  to  say  that  one  can  have  it 
all,  that  America  is  willing  to  cut  some  slack  for  the  assimilating  Jew  as  long 
as  he  or  she  gets  the  overall  priorities  straight  —  namely,  an  appropriately 
proportionate  wedge  of  the  American  Dream.  Between  the  desperate  ambi- 
ence of  Hungry  Hearts  and  the  sunny  affirmation  of  The  Jazz  Singer  is  a 
crucial  eight  years  of  burgeoning  American  prosperity  —  and  with  it  Amer- 
ican immigrant  prosperity.  But,  as  we  know  from  hindsight,  that  circum- 
stance was  rapidly  headed  for  a  time  of  crisis. 

The  Jazz  Singer  should  not  be  seen  in  isolation  from  other  comparable 
approaches  to  ethnicity  in  films  of  the  period.  The  ancient  Judean  prince 
Judah  Ben  Hur,  in  the  1925  Ben  Hur,  is  arrested  and  sold  to  a  slave  galleon 
but  gains  his  freedom  after  rescuing  a  Roman  general.  He  subsequently  rises 
to  stardom  in  Rome  as  a  champion  charioteer  in  the  Roman  games,  who 
then  challenges  his  Roman  ex-friend  and  enemy  in  a  chariot  competition, 
which  he  enters  as  "the  Unknown  Jew."  He  arguably  anticipates  Jake 

"Cf.  Friedman,  Hollywood's  Image  of  the  Jew,  pp.  50-52,  57-85;  Erens,  The  Jew  in 
American  Cinema,  pp.  101  -  107;  for  a  good  overview  of  the  literature  on  The  Jazz  Singer  (in 
an  otherwise  dreadfully  wrongheaded  article),  see  Michael  Rogin,  "Black  Face,  White  Noise: 
The  Jewish  Jazz  Singer  Finds  His  Voice,"  Critical  Inquiry  18,  no.  3  (Spring  1982),  pp.  417  - 
53.  Still  more  useful  is  Robert  L.  Carringer,  The  Jazz  Singer  (Madison,  Wis.,  1979). 

JEWISH    EXPERIENCE    ON     FILM      /      15 

Rabinowitz's  metamorphosis  into  Jack  Robin.  The  Jazz  Singer  can  also  be 
meaningfully  compared  to  the  portrait  of  a  San  Francisco  Spaniard  among 
American  Anglos  in  the  film  Old  San  Francisco,  directed  by  the  same 
director,  Alan  Crosland,  in  the  same  year  (the  latter  film  even  uses  the  same 
snatches  of  Tchaikovsky's  "Romeo  and  Juliet"  that  are  present  in  The  Jazz 
Singer);  to  the  portrait  of  an  assimilated  Chinese  man  ("Chinaman,"  in  the 
era's  parlance)  in  San  Francisco,  played  by  Jewish  actor  Edward  G.  Robin- 
son, in  The  Hatchet  Man  (1932);  and  to  evocations  of  black  life  in  the  South 
in  King  Vidor's  1930  film  Hallelujah,  as  well  as  to  the  whole  industry  of 
"race  movies,"  films  tailored  for  black  audiences  in  the  '30s  and  '40s." 

The  lives  and  careers  of  the  movie  moguls  have  been  engagingly  chroni- 
cled by  Neal  Gabler  in  his  book  An  Empire  of  Their  Own:  How  the  Jews 
Invented  Hollywood."  Despite  its  unfortunate  subtitle  (which,  much  to 
Gabler's  later  dismay,  seemed  to  bolster  the  anti-Semitic  canard  that  "Hol- 
lywood and  the  media  are  controlled  by  Jews,"  thus  lending  his  book  to 
considerable  misuse),  this  is  an  absorbing  account,  drawing  on  numerous 
prior  sources  but  greatly  enriched  by  archival  oral-history  material.  It 
covers  the  history  of  American  film  into  the  1950s,  when  the  studio  system 
began  to  come  apart.  The  book  is  perhaps  justly  criticized  for  its  overem- 
phasis on  an  ad  hominem  approach  to  American  film  history,  its  minimiza- 
tion of  the  vital  influence  of  non-Jews,  and  its  general  lack  of  scholarly 
method,  but  the  book's  richness  of  anecdote  and  fluency  of  narrative  make 
it  an  indispensable  resource  for  one  pursuing  the  subject.  It  contains  an 
especially  illuminating  account  of  the  political  conflicts  between  left  and 
right  that  developed  in  Hollywood  in  the  1930s  and  '40s,  in  the  struggle  of 
writers  and  directors  with  censorship  by  studio  heads  and  by  the  Hays 
Office  regulations  (a  code  of  censorship  adopted  by  the  film  industry  as  a 
form  of  self-policing  to  ward  off  boycotts  by  conservative  political  and 
religious  organizations)."  Alongside  these  events  Gabler  recounts  anti- 

"On  African  Americans  in  American  cinema,  cf.  Thomas  Cripps,  Slow  Fade  to  Black:  The 
Negro  in  American  Film  (New  York,  1993);  Nelson  George,  Blackface:  Reflections  on  African 
Americans  and  the  Movies  (New  York,  1994);  Chris  Vieler-Porter,  Black  and  Third  World 
Cinema:  A  Film  and  Television  Bibliography  (London,  1991);  Daniel  J.  Leab,  From  Sambo  to 
Superspade:  The  Black  Experience  in  Motion  Pictures  (Boston,  1975);  Donald  Bogle,  Toms 
Coons,  Mulattoes,  Mammies,  and  Bucks:  An  Interpretive  History  of  Blacks  in  American  Films 
(New  York,  1973).  On  Hispanics  in  American  cinema,  cf.  Gary  D.  Keller,  Hispanics  and 
United  States  Film:  An  Overview  and  Handbook  (Tempe,  Ariz.,  1994);  Alfred  Charles  Richard, 
The  Hispanic  Image  on  the  Silver  Screen:  An  Interpretive  Filmography  from  Silents  into  Sound, 
1898-1935  (New  York,  1992).  On  Asians  in  American  film,  cf  Gina  Marchetti,  Romance 
and  the  Yellow  Peril:  Race,  Sex,  and  Discursive  Strategies  in  Hollywood  Fiction  (Berkeley, 
1994);  Eugene  F.  Wong,  On  Visual  Media  Racism:  Asians  in  the  American  Motion  Pictures 
(New  York,  1978). 

"See  note  16. 

"On  the  Hays  Office  and  American  film  censorship,  see  Leonard  J.  Leff"  and  Jerold  L. 
Simmons,  The  Dame  in  the  Kimono  (New  York,  1991);  Clayton  R.  Koppes  and  Gregory  D. 

16      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

Semitically  motivated  attacks  on  Hollywood  by  congressional  investigators, 
which  began  in  1940  -  41  and  were  interrupted,  but  not  quelled,  by  the  war 
years."  But  to  understand  these  events  properly,  we  should  turn  our  atten- 
tion to  a  third  phase,  that  which  Samuels  has  termed  a  period  of  assimila- 

Assimilation  and  Its  Discontents 

In  truth,  assimilation,  and  with  it  ethnic  self-denial,  was  an  integral 
premise  of  American  film  from  its  beginning  —  at  least  from  the  start  of  its 
development  under  the  studio  pioneers,  and  earlier,  in  implicit  ways, 
through  the  whole  of  the  preceding  primitive  period.  Film  producers  in  the 
era  of  transition  discovered  fairly  quickly  the  penalties  for  overly  blatant  or 
stereotypic  ethnic  representation,  and  thus  the  Jewish  image,  like  the  Irish 
image,  was  often  muted  or  placed  in  disguise.^'  Some  films  rewrote  Jewish 
stage  characters  as  Anglo-Saxons.  Others  put  Jewishness  into  soft  focus  by 
using  non-Jewish  actors  for  Jewish  roles,  a  practice  that  has  persisted  well 
into  our  own  time. 

A  more  interesting  strategy,  made  possible  by  the  star  system,  was 
Charlie  Chaplin's  use  of  the  Tramp  as  the  quintessential  newcomer  —  and 
thus  as  a  kind  of  allegorization  of  ethnicity.  Chaplin,  himself  a  non- Jewish 
emigre  who  never  became  a  naturalized  American,  created  a  semantically 
plastic  antihero,  one  who  precisely  eluded  firm  ethnic  identification  but  still 
was  dark-haired,  curly-haired,  mustachioed,  and  arguably  Mediterranean 
or  Jewish  —  easily  at  home  among  the  hordes  of  Ellis  Island  arrivals  and 
a  conspicuous  oddball  when  set  against  Main  Street."  It  would  be  a  mistake, 
however,  to  overlook  the  equally  convincing  Englishness  of  Chaplin's  per- 
formance, its  rootedness  in  the  vaudeville  of  Liverpool  and  London  —  an 
essentially  stage  performance  whose  contours  were  to  become  more  appar- 
ent in  the  late,  post-tramp  Chaplin,  in  the  sound  era.  Chaplin  thus  softened, 
allegorized,  and  universalized  the  newcomer,  made  him  applicable  to  the 
experience  of  many  immigrant  groups  while  claimable  by  none.  Still,  Chap- 
lin's image  went  out  to  the  world  as  an  American  image,  which,  by  virtue 
of  its  improvised  invention  during  a  lunch  break  on  a  Hollywood  set,  it  was 
in  fact.  The  tramp  was  surely  as  American  as  Ellis  Island,  and  soon  became, 
as  had  Ellis  Island  itself,  a  logo  for  America.  When  the  tramp  became  a 

Black,  Hollywood  Goes  to  War:  How  Politics,  Profits,  and  Propaganda  Shaped  World  War  II 
Movies  (London,  1987),  esp.  pp.  1  -  47. 

"See  Gabler,  An  Empire  of  Their  Own,  pp.  311  -  86. 

"See  Musser,  "Ethnicity,  Role-playing,  and  American  Film  Comedy"  (see  note  12),  pp.  52- 

"Cf.  Musser,  p.  54. 

JEWISH     EXPERIENCE     ON     FILM      /       17 

Jewish  barber  in  The  Great  Dictator  in  1940,  it  was  a  believable  permutation 
of  the  tramp's  long-familiar  image,  but  still  the  tramp  as  Jew  (in  this  case, 
as  Jewish  barber),  a  self-consciously  allegorical  statement  rather  than  a 
truly  Jewish  tramp.  And,  of  course,  it  was  a  tramp  who  talked. 

Assimilation,  at  any  rate,  was  an  actively  touted  ideal  throughout  the 
silent  era,  and  stories  often  portrayed  entrepreneurial  zeal,  upward  mobil- 
ity, intermarriage,  show-business  fame,  and  similar  apotheoses  of  the 
remade  self.  The  late  silent  era  was  the  beginning  of  the  age  of  radio,  and 
radio's  golden  era,  in  the  1930s  and  1940s,  underscored  this  trend  by 
featuring  a  bevy  of  increasingly  Americanized  Jewish  stars  such  as  Molly 
Goldberg  (speaking  in  dialect),  Fanny  Brice,  Jack  Benny,  Mary  Living- 
stone, and,  as  noted  earlier,  George  Burns,  Eddie  Cantor,  and  the  Marx 
Brothers.  Benny,  in  particular,  was,  like  Chaplin,  a  figure  of  semantic 
plasticity.  He  embodied  a  kind  of  Everyman,  an  American  Main  Street  type, 
but  was  also  the  classic  schlemiel  —  the  carping,  debunking,  worldly-wise 
hero  of  Yiddish  folklore  —  as  well  as  the  preener,  the  pretender  to  high- 
brow culture,  the  hideously  out-of-tune  violinist,  and  often,  in  a  wryly 
self-deprecating  parody,  the  Jewish  miser.  In  To  Be  or  Not  To  Be,  Benny 
was  a  reassuringly  American  presence  in  a  Nazified  Europe  while  playing 
a  Pole  of  ambiguous  ethnicity  and  remaining  implicitly  an  assimilated 
American  Jew  throughout.^" 

The  Marx  Brothers,  for  their  part,  represented,  as  an  ensemble,  four 
stages  of  Americanization:  the  mute,  wildly  gesticulating  newcomer 
(Harpo),  the  dialect-speaking  street  vendor/entrepreneur  (Chico,  in  this 
case  using  an  Italianized  English),  the  fast-talking  urban  con  artist  or 
crackpot  professorial  pretender  (Groucho),  and  the  wholly  Americanized 
youngest  brother  (Zeppo),  who  was  invariably  the  straight  man  of  the  act. 
The  zany,  anarchic  energy  of  the  Marx  Brothers,  their  subversive  wordplay 
and  dizzying  nonsequiturs,  suggest  a  kind  of  Melting  Pot  meltdown,  a 
camivalesque  transformation  of  the  American  (and,  in  Duck  Soup,  fanta- 
sized European)  landscape  that  was  to  have  important  reverberations  in 
American  comedy  and  satire  far  beyond  its  era.  Its  roots  perhaps  go  back 
to  the  centuries-old  tradition  of  the  Purimshpiel,  itself  a  parody  of  assimila- 
tion, which  grew  from  the  great  biblical  tale  of  assimilation,  the  Book  of 

It  is  in  this  context  that  one  should  examine  the  contributions  of  Ernst 
Lubitsch  to  American  film.''  A  German  Jew  born  and  raised  in  Berlin, 

"I  deal  with  this  matter  at  length  in  a  forthcoming  article  in  Prooftexts:  "Shylock's  Revenge: 
The  Doubly  Vanished  Jew  in  Ernst  Lubitsch's  To  Be  or  Not  To  Be." 

"On  Lubitsch's  rootedness  in  the  Purimshpiel,  cf.  Sabine  Hake,  Passions  and  Deceptions:  The 
Early  Films  of  Ernst  Lubitsch  (Princeton,  1992),  pp  29  -  30.  The  best  studies  of  Lubitsch  are 
James  Harvey,  Romantic  Comedy  in  Hollywood  from  Lubitsch  to  Sturges  (New  York,  1987), 

18      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

Lubitsch  left  his  father's  haberdashery  business  while  still  a  teenager  and 
made  his  mark  initially  as  a  player  in  Max  Reinhardt's  Deutsches  Theater, 
the  foremost  German  theater  company  in  the  first  third  of  this  century. 
Soon  he  was  directing  one-  and  two-reelers,  and  eventually  feature-length 
films,  often  featuring  a  Jewish  schlemiel  character  (played  by  Lubitsch 
himself)  who  went  by  such  names  as  Meyer  from  Berlin,  Sigi  Lachmann 
from  Rawicz,  and  Sally  Pinkus.  As  Enno  Patalas  notes  of  Lubitsch's  Jewish 
antihero:  "Like  Charlie  [Chaplin],  he  is  hungry,  counts  his  pennies  and 
chats  up  the  ladies.  The  roots  in  popular  art,  the  slapstick  origin  in  vaude- 
ville films,  remained  alive  in  Lubitsch's  later  films,  too,  as  they  did  with 
Chaplin,  Keaton,  the  Marx  Brothers,  and  [eventually]  Jerry  Lewis."" 

By  the  early  1920s,  Lubitsch  had  become  an  internationally  distinguished 
director,  "the  European  Griffith,"  whose  grandly  costumed  historical  spec- 
tacles {Madame  Dubarry  in  1920  is  a  key  example)  easily  alternated  with 
wry  satires  and  bittersweet  domestic  chamber-dramas.  He  lived  in  the 
United  States  from  1922  onward  and  became  one  of  Hollywood's  foremost 
directors.  Almost  all  of  his  films  were  portraits  of  Europe,  a  fanciful, 
dreamlike  Europe  of  the  past  or  present,  mixed  with  pointed  hints  of  the 
impact  of  modernity. 

Lubitsch  wore  his  Jewishness  unselfconsciously,  and  he  had  direct  or 
indirect  ties  with  various  classic  films  of  Jewish  experience.  One  filmogra- 
phy  lists  him,  perhaps  apocryphally,  as  an  uncredited  director  of  certain 
scenes  in  Der  Golem  —  which  is  not  implausible,  given  Lubitsch's  close 
association  with  the  film's  co-director,  Paul  Wegener,  another  Reinhardt 
alumnus,  during  Lubitsch's  period  in  Germany  (Wegener  starred  in  several 
Lubitsch  films)."  Lubitsch  also  had  a  strong  interest  in  Samson  Raphael- 
son's  story  "The  Day  of  Atonement,"  prototype  of  the  stage  play  of  The 
Jazz  Singer.  (Lubitsch  was  a  close  collaborator  with  Raphaelson  on  other 
films.)"  He  wanted  to  direct  The  Jazz  Singer  on  film,  and  almost  had  the 
opportunity,  but  he  left  Warner  Brothers  when  the  film  was  still  in  the 
planning  stages. 

Most  of  the  films  of  Lubitsch's  American  period  lack  identifiably  Jewish 
characters,  but  they  are  present,  I  think,  as  "implicit  Jews"  in  many  of  the 

pp.  3  -  59,  367  -  401,  477  -  508;  and  Hans-Helmut  Prinzler  and  Enno  Patalas,  eds.,  Lubitsch 
(Munich,  1984),  in  German.  A  useful  biography  is  Scott  Eyman,  Ernst  Lubitsch:  Laughter  in 
Paradise  (New  York,  1993). 

"Enno  Patalas,  "Ernst  Lubitsch:  German  Period,"  in  Cinema:  A  Critical  Dictionary,  vol. 
2,  ed.  Richard  Roud  (New  York,  1980),  pp.  639  -  43;  remarks  quoted  are  on  p.  640. 

"On  Lubitsch's  possible  connection  to  Der  Golem,  see  the  filmography  in  Robert  Camnger 
and  Barry  Sabath,  Ernst  Lubitsch:  A  Guide  to  References  and  Resources  (Boston,  1978). 

"Raphaelson's  remarkable  memoir  of  his  association  with  Lubitsch,  "Freundschaft:  How 
It  Was  with  Lubitsch  and  Me,"  is  found  in  Samson  Raphaelson,  Three  Screen  Comedies 
(Madison,  Wis.,  1983),  pp.  21-47. 

JEWISH    EXPERIENCE    ON    FILM      /      19 

non-Jewish  characters  of  his  films:  one  thinks  of  Jean  Hersholt's  Dr.  Jiitt- 
ner,  the  kindly,  bespectacled,  and  mustachioed  tutor  of  Prince  Karl  Hein- 
rich  in  The  Student  Prince  in  Old  Heidelberg  (1926),  and  the  portrayals  by 
Felix  Bressart  in  Ninotchka  (1939)  and  The  Shop  Around  the  Corner  (1940). 
Bressart,  an  East  Prussian  Jew,  was  part  of  the  stream  of  Jews  and  liberals 
who  emigrated  from  Central  Europe  in  the  1930s,  many  of  whom  settled 
in  Los  Angeles  and  worked  on  Hollywood  films.  Lubitsch  himself  was 
active  in  campaigns  on  behalf  of  European  Jewry  during  this  period,  and 
he  eventually  cast  Bressart  as  the  first  unambiguously  Jewish  character  in 
Lubitsch's  American  period,  the  unforgettable  Greenberg  in  To  Be  or  Not 
To  Be.  Greenberg,  the  Polish  Jewish  stage  extra  who  yearns  to  play  Shy- 
lock,  represents  (alongside  Chaplin's  Jew  in  The  Great  Dictator)  one  of  the 
few  truly  bold  uses  of  a  Jewish  character  in  American  films  of  this  period, 
and  himself  presents  an  eloquent  plea,  entirely  through  the  words  of  Shake- 
speare, for  mobilization  against  Hitler. 

All  of  the  above  examples  suggest  that  the  alleged  era  of  assimilation 
(which  includes  Friedman's  "Timid  Thirties")  was  in  fact  marked  by  at 
least  some  subversive  approaches  to  ethnicity  and  Jewishness  in  film  at  a 
time  when  it  was  a  highly  sensitive  matter.  Audience  interest  in  ethnic 
characters  had,  to  be  sure,  waned  considerably  with  the  onset  of  the  Great 
Depression,  and  the  wave  of  nativism  that  hard  times  brought  on  made  the 
studio  moguls  very  timid  indeed.  During  the  same  era,  the  Hays  Office 
regulations,  known  as  the  Motion  Picture  Production  Code,  exercised  tight 
censorship  over  the  sexual,  political,  and  moral  content  of  American  films, 
prohibiting  film  images  of  nudity,  profanity,  adultery,  homosexuality,  and 
even  married  couples  in  the  same  bed.  Portrayal  of  ethnicity  was  tightly 
reined  in  by  the  stipulation  that  "[t]he  just  rights,  history,  and  feelings  of 
any  nation  are  entitled  to  most  careful  consideration  and  respectful  treat- 

In  practice,  this  last  regulation  was  not  as  fair-minded  as  it  purported  to 
be.  Blacks,  Asians,  and  decidedly  non-Anglo  foreigners  (Slavs,  Hungarians, 
Turks,  Arabs,  Gypsies)  were  continually  stereotyped  in  American  film  of 
the  1930s,  and  the  plight  of  European  Jewry  was  largely  ignored  during  a 
time  when  some  attention  to  it  might  have  made  a  diiFerence."  Studio  heads 
were  reluctant  to  invite  the  ire  of  the  U.S.  Congress,  where  diatribes  against 
Hollywood,  and  especially  against  Hollywood's  Jews,  were  becoming  fash- 
ionable, and  where  a  spirit  of  isolationism  on  American  foreign  policy 

"Leff  and  Simmons,  The  Dame  in  the  Kimono,  p.  292;  for  a  full  text  of  the  Code,  see  ibid., 
pp.  283-92. 

"Cf.  Friedman,  Hollywood's  Image  of  the  Jew,  pp.  84  -  85;  Manchel,  Film  Study,  pp.  828  - 
30.  Also  see  Harry  Popkin,  "The  Vanishing  Jew  of  Our  Popular  Culture:  The  Little  Man  Who 
Is  No  Longer  There,"  Commentary  14,  no.  1  (July  1952),  p.  52. 

20     /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

prevailed.  The  political  and  economic  consequences  of  alienating  Nazi  Ger- 
many were  carefully  —  indeed,  too  carefully  —  weighed  in  Hollywood,  and 
the  strongly  conservative,  isolationist,  and  perhaps  anti-Semitic  personnel 
of  the  Hays  Office  often  sent  back  for  revision  film  scripts  critical  of  the 
Third  Reich  or  identifiably  pro-Jewish  in  outlook.  Hollywood's  middle 
echelon  —  the  writers,  directors,  and  some  producers  who  often  did  battle 
with  the  Hays  Office  and  studio  heads  over  the  representation  of  Nazi 
Germany  —  were  by  and  large  a  markedly  liberal,  antifascist,  and  pro- 
Jewish  element,  many  of  them  emigres  and  refugees,  and  of  course  many 
of  them  Jews  themselves. 

In  short,  far  from  being  merely  an  era  of  "timidity,"  the  period  from  1928 
to  1942  was  an  arena  of  intense  ideological  battle,  in  which  a  few  confident 
dissidents,  such  as  Chaplin  and  Lubitsch,  as  well  as  a  number  of  performers 
popularly  associated  with  explicit  or  implicit  Jewishness,  occasionally 
scored  significant  victories.  But  the  overall  effect  on  American  public  opin- 
ion, let  alone  on  American  officialdom,  was,  unhappily,  minimal.  It  took  the 
Pearl  Harbor  attack,  on  December  7,  1941,  and  the  consequent  U.S.  decla- 
ration of  war,  to  spark  a  partial  reversal  of  this  trend  in  film  of  the  time; 
even  then,  a  true  breakthrough  to  honesty  about  European  Jewry  was  not 

The  War  and  Its  Aftermath 

Identifiably  Jewish  characters  began  reappearing  in  American  films  in  the 
war  years,  usually  alongside,  among  others,  Irish,  Swedes,  Italians,  Polish 
Americans,  and  Anglo-Saxons  in  sanitizedly  multi-ethnic  "platoon"  films 
—  members  of  the  "Melting  Pot"  dutifully  serving  abroad  in  the  struggle 
against  the  Axis."  In  addition  to  those  mentioned  already,  two  films  of  this 
period  deserve  somewhat  closer  attention  by  film  historians:  The  Man  I 
Married  (1940),  the  story  of  an  American  woman  (Joan  Bennett)  whose 
husband,  a  German  emigre  (Francis  Lederer),  becomes  increasingly  pro- 
Nazi  when  the  couple  visits  the  German  homeland,  only  later  to  learn  of 
his  own  mother's  Jewish  identity;  and  Once  Upon  a  Honeymoon  (1942),  the 
story  of  a  romance  between  an  American  reporter  (Gary  Grant)  and  a 
former  American  burlesque  queen  (Ginger  Rogers),  who  is  at  the  outset 
married  to  a  Nazi  ideologue  (Walter  Slezak).  The  film  features  a  brief, 
remarkable  scene  in  a  concentration  camp  where  the  Hebrew  prayers  of 
Jewish  inmates  are  overheard.  Again,  in  both  films,  these  were  rare  expres- 

"Cf.  Erens,  The  Jew  in  American  Cinema,  pp.  170  -  73;  Friedman,  Hollywood's  Image  of 
the  Jew,  pp.  95  -  96.  On  the  relation  of  American  war  policy  to  Hollywood  filmmaking,  see, 
in  general,  Koppes  and  Black,  Hollywood  Goes  to  War  (see  note  26),  and  Thomas  Doherty, 
Projections  of  War:  Hollywood,  American  Culture,  and  World  War  II  (New  York,  1993). 

JEWISH    EXPERIENCE    ON    FILM      /      21 

sions  of  candor  quite  out  of  key  with  mainstream  ideology. 

It  is  symptomatic  of  this  entire  period  that  Al  Jolson,  star  of  The  Jazz 
Singer,  never  estabHshed  a  successful  film  career."  It  was  Jolson's  life  and 
public  image  that  had  inspired  Raphaelson's  story  in  the  first  place  (Jolson 
was  himself  a  cantor's  son),  but  Jolson  was  picked  for  the  film  role  only  after 
George  Jessel  was  dropped  over  a  contract  dispute.  After  Jolson's  successful 
film  portrayal  of  Jake  Rabinowitz,  he  rarely  appeared  in  films  of  the  sound 
era,  though  he  continued  to  perform  live  to  enthusiastic  theater  and  night- 
club audiences  throughout  the  same  period  and  entertained  troops  during 
the  war. 

The  great  drama  of  assimilation  portrayed  in  The  Jazz  Singer  (although 
it  likewise  traces  a  journey  of  return  to  the  Jewish  fold,  in  however  qualified 
a  way,  and  is  all  too  often  ignored  as  such)  acquired  a  special  poignance  in 
occurring  at  the  threshold  of  sound  film.  Sound,  after  all,  made  English  rise 
to  a  new  prominence  in  film  art.  "Garbo  talks!"  was  a  cause  of  hullabaloo 
among  film  fans,  and  in  her  case  it  proved  as  beneficial  to  her  image  as  silent 
film  had  been.  In  the  case  of  many  other  foreign-born  stars  of  American 
film,  it  had  the  reverse  effect.  Sound  exaggerated  both  foreignness  and 
homebom  ethnicity,  and  this  coincided  with  the  other  forces  of  the  1930s 
that  made  ethnicity  a  sensitive  matter.  Although  it  had  been  Jolson's  privi- 
lege to  declare  "You  ain't  heard  nothin'  yet!"  Jolson  himself  was  heard  very 
little  on  screen  from  then  on.  Perhaps  by  way  of  tacit  atonement,  the  film 
The  Jolson  Story  was  released  in  1946,  four  years  before  Jolson's  death,  with 
Larry  Parks  as  Jolson.  Jolson  himself,  his  voice  dubbed  into  the  musical 
numbers  throughout,  appeared  in  blackface  in  one  performance  within  the 
story.  The  film  also  generated  a  sequel,  Jolson  Sings  Again  (1949). 

The  postwar  years  brought  certain  important  changes  in  Hollywood  — 
most  notably,  as  a  consequence  of  the  Cold  War,  the  withering  effects  of 
renewed  congressional  investigation  into  alleged  Communist  subversion  in 
the  film  industry.  The  issue  divided  Hollywood  bitterly,  and  the  most 
notorious  effect  was  the  Hollywood  blacklist,  which  ended  or  interrupted 
the  careers  of  a  significant  number  of  producers,  directors,  screenwriters, 
and  performers,  many  of  them  Jews."  (The  non-Jew  Chaplin  was  likewise 
hounded  into  exile.)  Simultaneously,  the  revelations  of  Nazi  war  crimes, 
through  the  Nuremberg  trials  and  widespread  media  attention  to  the  death 
camps  (including  newsreel  film  footage  of  the  piles  of  bodies  and  the  ema- 
ciated survivors)  evoked  a  new  soul-searching  about  the  fate  of  the  Jews, 

"See  Herbert  G.  Goldman,  Jolson:  The  Legend  Comes  to  Life  (New  York,  1988),  pp.  21 1  - 

"Among  other  sources  on  these  events,  see  Victor  Navasky,  Naming  Names  (New  York, 
1980);  Larry  Ceplair  and  Steven  Englund,  The  Inquisition:  Politics  in  the  Film  Community, 
1930-1960  (Garden  City,  N.Y.,  1980),  esp.  pp.  478-504.  Cf.  note  27. 

22      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

at  least  for  a  time,  and  some  of  this  concern  found  its  way  into  cinematic 

Films  like  Body  and  Soul  (1946),  the  tale  of  a  Jewish  prizefighter  who 
defies  his  gangster  promoters.  Crossfire  (1947),  a  film-noir  tale  portraying 
an  investigation  into  the  murder  of  a  Jewish  civilian  by  an  anti-Semitic  war 
veteran,  and  especially  Gentleman's  Agreement  (1947),  Elia  Kazan's  film 
based  on  Laura  Z.  Hobson's  novel  about  a  Gentile  reporter  (Gregory  Peck) 
who  disguises  himself  as  a  Jew  in  order  to  investigate  anti-Semitism  in 
American  life,  focused  attention  on  anti-Semitism  in  a  manner  not  possible 
in  previous  years.  The  last-mentioned  film  won  several  Academy  Awards, 
including  Best  Picture.  But  these  films  are  notable  as  well  for  their  absence 
of  any  endorsement  of  ethnicity.  Jews  are  portrayed  as  participants  in  an 
American  civil  religion,  whose  members  attend  either  the  church  or  syna- 
gogue of  their  choice  but  are  not  otherwise  marked  by  great  differences  of 
appearance,  speech,  custom,  or  behavior.  The  Holocaust,  not  yet  widely 
known  by  that  name,  was  almost  totally  ignored.  Only  later  did  European 
imports,  such  as  the  landmark  31 -minute  French  documentary  by  Alain 
Resnais,  Night  and  Fog  (1955),  attempt  to  deal  honestly  with  the  legacy  of 
the  European  death  camps. 

Jews  were  about  to  become,  in  any  case,  far  more  visible  on  the  American 
screen  than  in  the  previous  two  decades,  both  as  Jewish  actors  playing 
Jewish  or  implicitly  Jewish  roles  and  as  Jewish  roles  played  by  Gentile 
actors.  As  if  in  belated  tribute  to  the  legacy  of  Jolson  and  The  Jazz  Singer, 
the  show-business  bio-pic  flourished,  often  dealing  with  Jewish  performers 
—  including,  as  noted  earlier.  The  Jolson  Story  (1946)  and  Jolson  Sings 
Again  (1949);  plus  The  Eddie  Cantor  Story  (1953);  The  Benny  Goodman 
Story  (1956);  and,  inevitably,  an  updated  remake  of  The  Jazz  Singer  (1953), 
this  time  featuring  Lebanese- American  Danny  Thomas  as  Jake  Rabinowitz. 
Although  a  significant  market  for  these  films  was  American  Jews,  who  were 
by  now  moving  to  suburbs  in  large  numbers  and  were  quite  happy  to  see 
Jews  universalized  as  American  success  stories,  a  comparable  interest  in  the 
subject  among  American  filmgoers  at  large  is  equally  significant.  Films 
about  Jewish  refugees  in  Palestine,  Sword  in  the  Desert  (1949)  and  The 
Juggler  (1953)  —  the  latter  starring  Kirk  Douglas,  a  Jewish-born  actor  who 
was  an  "implicit  Jew"  in  several  films  (see  below)  —  drew  some  attention 
to  the  legacy  of  the  war  and  to  Israel's  battle  for  independence.  (Douglas 
would  eventually  portray  Gen.  David  D.  "Mickey"  Marcus,  American  war 
hero  turned  Haganah  soldier,  in  Cast  a  Giant  Shadow,  in  1966.)  Sinister 
Jews  made  notable  appearances  here  and  there  —  Alec  Guinness's  Fagan 
in  the  British  import  Oliver  Twist  (1948);  Kirk  Douglas's  implicitly  Jewish 
"bad  boy"  roles  in  Out  of  the  Past  (1947)  and  The  Bad  and  the  Beautiful 
(1953);  and  Rod  Steiger's  memorably  ruthless  film  mogul  in  The  Big  Knife 

JEWISH     EXPERIENCE    ON    FILM      /      23 

(1955).  All  of  these  films  warrant  close  analysis  of  their  style,  outlook,  and 

The  late  1950s  and  early  '60s  brought  about  some  change  in  the  predomi- 
nant silence  on  the  Holocaust,  with  the  release  of  such  films  as  The  Diary 
of  Anne  Frank  (1959),  which  focused  attention  on  the  Nazi  occupation  of 
Holland  through  the  viewpoint  of  its  posthumously  renowned  Jewish  vic- 
tim; Exodus  (1960),  which  celebrated  the  formation  of  the  State  of  Israel 
and  began  to  confront  realities  of  Holocaust-survivor  and  refugee  experi- 
ence; and  Judgment  at  Nuremberg  (1961),  which  dramatized,  albeit  in  a 
fairly  schematic  and  bowdlerized  fashion,  the  war-crimes  trials  in  Germany. 
(The  capture  and  Jerusalem  trial  of  Adolf  Eichmann  between  1960  and 
1962  was  a  further  stimulus  of  interest  in  these  matters.)  These  three  films 
in  particular  helped  to  inaugurate  what  could  be  called,  according  to  Stuart 
Samuels'  schema,  an  era  of  "acceptance,"  although  a  full-blown  confronta- 
tion with  the  Holocaust  was  still  far  from  realized,  and,  properly  speaking, 
as  with  the  era  that  preceded,  it  is  the  evasions  and  circumlocutions  of  these 
films  that  are  as  interesting  and  illuminating  as  their  good-faith  efforts.  Still, 
it  is  all  too  easy  to  sit  in  judgment  of  cinema  and  far  more  useful  to 
understand  the  halting  return  of  ethnicity  to  American  film  (whether  it  was 
ever  absent  in  the  first  place  is,  to  be  sure,  a  legitimate  question)  in  the 
context  of  the  larger  history  of  the  medium  and  broader  developments  in 
international  cinema  as  a  whole. 

It  is  impossible,  for  example,  to  understand  the  period  of  the  1940s  and 
'50s  without  examining  certain  pivotal  films,  such  as  Frank  Capra's  memo- 
rable/r's  a  Wonderful  Life  (1946).  Here  ethnicity  is  not  explicitly  an  issue, 
but  a  clash  between  mainstream  American  optimism  and  more  pessimistic, 
essentially  film-noir  conceptions  of  the  world  (more  or  less  the  artistic 
parameters  of  Gentleman's  Agreement  and  Crossfire,  respectively)  is  al- 
lowed significant  attention.*"  It  is  also  useful  to  explore  foreign  films  of  the 
period  that  reflect  on  American  identity  and  its  relation  to  ethnic  cosmopol- 
itanism. I  have  in  mind,  for  example,  the  films  of  British  director  Michael 
Powell  and  his  Hungarian  Jewish  co-director  and  scenarist  Emeric  Press- 
burger,  who  in  A  Canterbury  Tale  (1944)  and  Stairway  to  Heaven  (1948) 
explored  Anglo-American  relations  and  the  multi-ethnic  heritage  of  both 
Britain  and  America.  Films  such  as  these  could  be  meaningfully  compared 
with,  say,  French  films  of  the  National  Front  era  and  its  aftermath;  or  of 
the  Occupation  and  postwar  periods,  where  issues  of  French  identity  in  an 
era  of  tyranny,  or  of  life  and  collaboration  under  fascism,  were  dealt  with, 
usually  metaphorically.  The  film  output  of  many  other  countries  and  re- 
gions during  the  era  of  fascism  and  its  aftermath  —  including  the  former 

'°Cf.  Robert  B.  Ray,  A  Certain  Tendency  in  the  Hollywood  Cinema,  1930  -  1960  (Princeton, 
1985),  pp.  179-215. 

24     /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

Soviet  Union,  Japan,  China,  India,  the  Middle  East,  Australia,  Africa,  and 
Latin  America  —  is  all  highly  relevant  to  the  situation  of  American  film, 
as  well  as  of  Jewish  experience  on  film,  and  comparative  study  of  this  sort 
could  prove  immensely  useful.  The  experience  of  each  film-producing  na- 
tion with  the  conflicting  claims  of  civil  society  and  ethnic  unity,  and  of 
ethnic  unity  and  national  unity,  as  these  shaped  film  art,  bears  close  exami- 
nation, as  does  the  experience  of  individual  peoples  within  nations.*' 

Ethnicity  Comes  of  Age 

As  we  come  closer  to  the  present  era,  we  find  a  period  marked  by 
revolutionary  changes  in  American  film,  beginning  in  the  1960s  and  '70s. 
The  breakup  of  the  studio  system  and  the  consequent  expansion  of  indepen- 
dent production  companies  played  a  major  role  in  this  transformation,  as 
did  the  wider  changes  in  American  politics  and  society.  It  is  widely  ac- 
knowledged that  ethnicity  as  such  gained  a  new  respectability  in  the  '60s 
as  the  freedom  marches  in  the  South,  the  worldwide  decline  of  European 
colonialism  in  Africa,  the  Black  Power  movement,  four  major  political 
assassinations  (including  that  of  Malcolm  X),  the  growth  of  New  Left 
student  politics  in  Europe  and  America,  and  the  U.S.  entry  into  war  in 
Vietnam  began  to  reshape  American  life  and  culture.  A  widespread  respect 
for  Israel  marked  that  country's  sweeping  victory  in  the  Six  Day  War  of 
1967,  and  most  American  Jews  were  proud  to  identify  with  Israel,  which 
had  already  been  shown  favorably  in  film  and  other  media  since  its  early 
years  of  Arab  besiegement. 

A  new  acceptance  of  the  textures  and  idiosyncrasies  of  Jewishness  was 
reflected  in  films,  including  period  pieces,  that  celebrated  Borscht  Belt 
humor  and  East  Coast  Jewish  culture  {Hello,  Dolly!;  Funny  Girl;  The  Night 
They  Raided  Minsky's;  Bye,  Bye,  Braverman;  I  Love  You,  Alice  B.  Toklas). 
Jewish  and  Holocaust  motifs  were  drawn  upon  for  black  comedy  (The  Little 
Shop  of  Horrors;  The  Fearless  Vampire  Killers;  The  Twelve  Chairs;  The 
Producers);  as  well  as  for  historical  tales  and  literary  classics  {Operation 
Eichmann;  Freud;  Judith;  The  Pawnbroker;  Ship  of  Fools;  Cast  a  Giant 
Shadow;  Ulysses;  Tobruk;  The  Fixer;  Oliver!).  The  biblical  film  and  the 
Christian  tale  of  Jewish  antiquity  continued  in  this  period  {The  Story  of 
Ruth;  Esther  and  the  King;  King  of  Kings),  following  upon  well-known 

"See,  e.g.,  Keith  Reader,  Cultures  on  Celluloid  (London,  1981);  Vieler-Porter,  Black  and 
Third  World  Cinema  (see  note  24);  Teshome  H.  Gabriel,  Cinema  in  the  Third  World  (Ann 
Arbor,  Mich.,  1982);  Duncan  Petrie,  ed..  Screening  Europe:  Image  and  Identity  in  Contempo- 
rary Europe  (London,  1992);  Pierre  Sorlin,  European  Cinemas,  European  Societies,  1939- 
1990  (New  York,  1991);  Wimal  Dissanyake,  Colonialism  and  Nationalism  in  Asian  Cinema 
(Bloomington,  Ind.,  1994);  idem.  Cinema  and  Cultural  Identity:  Reflections  on  Films  from 
Japan,  India,  and  China  (Lanham,  Md.,  1988). 

JEWISH     EXPERIENCE    ON    FILM      /      25 

examples  of  the  '50s  {David  and  Bathsheba;  The  Ten  Commandments; 
Samson  and  Delilah;  Solomon  and  Sheba;  Ben  Hur). 

Toward  the  end  of  the  '60s,  the  look  of  American  movies  began  to 
change.  The  Production  Code,  as  a  consequence  of  Supreme  Court  deci- 
sions on  obscenity  and  civil  liberties,  was  revised  in  1966  to  permit  a  new 
frankness  in  language,  sexuahty,  and  story  line  in  films.  And  the  influence 
of  certain  European-bom  trends,  such  as  classic  French  cinema,  Italian 
Neo-realism,  the  French  New  Wave,  and  Eisensteinian  montage  techniques 
—  some  of  whose  stylistic  hallmarks  had  previously  influenced  American 
film  noir  —  began  to  register  more  powerfully  on  mainstream  American 
filmmaking.  The  classical  Hollywood  style  had  long  tended  to  simplify  the 
screen  image,  to  mute  or  neutrahze  background  visual  information,  to  set 
story  lines  into  a  tight,  goal-oriented  structure,  and  to  portray  clear-cut 
struggles  of  good  and  evil.  Film  art  now  became  more  steeped  in  hyper- 
realism,  ambiguity,  irresolution,  skepticism,  and  spontaneity,  and  deepened 
these  traits  throughout  the  1970s  and  '80s. 

Along  with  a  new  frankness  in  language,  sexuality,  violence,  and  moral 
complexity  came  a  similar  openness  in  the  representation  of  race  and  eth- 
nicity. Interracial  romance  became  more  common  in  film  stories,  though 
still  charged  with  meaning  and  mystique.  Supposed  ethnic  traits  that  had 
once  been  considered  impolite  to  discuss  publicly  were  now  embraced  un- 
apologetically  —  for  example,  notions  of  the  Jew  as  rude,  pushy,  ruthless, 
or  subversive  became  the  model  for  certain  Jewish  "bad  boy"  types  (Rich- 
ard Dreyfuss  in  The  Apprenticeship  of  Duddy  Kravitz;  Dustin  Hoffman  in 
Lenny;  Mark  Rydell's  violent  Jewish  gangster  in  The  Long  Goodbye;  even 
Ron  Leibman's  decidedly  honorable  union  organizer  in  Norma  Rae).  Also, 
the  Jew  as  oversexed,  neurotic,  narcissistic,  or  strung  out  found  expression 
in  portrayals  by  Woody  Allen  {Annie  Hall  and  Manhattan,  among  many 
examples),  Richard  Benjamin  {Diary  of  a  Mad  Housewife;  Portnoy's  Com- 
plaint; The  Sunshine  Boys),  George  Segal  {Bye,  Bye,  Braverman;  Where's 
Poppa?;  Blume  in  Love),  Ron  Leibman  (memorably  as  Segal's  older  brother 
in  Where's  Poppa?),  and  of  course  Dreyfuss  and  Hoffman,  as  in  the  exam- 
ples already  cited  and  even  in  not  explicitly  Jewish  roles  (Dreyfuss,  say,  in 
American  Graffiti  and  Close  Encounters  of  the  Third  Kind,  and  Hoffman 
in  The  Graduate,  and  playing  an  Italian- American  street  person,  "Ratso" 
Rizzo,  in  Midnight  Cowboy). 

Black  comedy  and  parody  continued,  notably  in  the  further  work  of 
actor/director  Mel  Brooks  {Blazing  Saddles;  Young  Frankenstein;  High 
Anxiety;  and,  in  the  '80s,  The  History  of  the  World  —  Part  I,  as  well  as 
Brooks's  not  wholly  successful  remake  of  Lubitsch's  To  Be  or  Not  To  Be) 
and  Woody  Allen.  The  Jewish  gangster  was  played  in  notable  depth  and 
historical  detail  in  Francis  Ford  Coppola's  The  Godfather  and  The  Godfa- 

26      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

ther,  Part  II,  the  latter  featuring  a  crime  boss  (Lee  Strasberg)  somewhat 
modeled  on  Meyer  Lansky.  A  much- neglected  film  of  this  era  (indeed,  not 
released  until  two  decades  later,  then  largely  ignored).  The  Plot  Against 
Harry  (1970),  is  a  puckishly  jaundiced  look  at  a  Jewish  gangster,  Harry 
Plotnick  (Martin  Priest),  who  runs  small  rackets  in  New  York  City  but  also 
lives  life  as  a  parolee,  an  ex-husband,  a  father,  a  frequent  attender  and 
celebrator  at  family  occasions  like  weddings  and  bar  mitzvahs,  while  he 
copes  with  health  problems,  tax  woes,  and  various  family  preoccupations. 
The  film  is  played  as  a  comedy  and  suggests  the  ultimate  bourgeoisification 
of  the  Jewish  gangster,  in  urban  New  York  terms. 

A  newly  visible  type  of  feisty,  aggressive  Jewish  woman  was  brought  to 
the  screen  at  star  level  chiefly  by  Barbra  Streisand  in  her  many  variations 
on  a  tough,  unabashedly  ethnic  New  York  Jew  in  many  films,  including 
Funny  Girl,  Funny  Lady,  and  The  Way  We  Were.  Though  often  schmaltzy 
and  sentimental,  often  in  some  sense  confessional,  Streisand's  persona  was 
a  welcome  change  from  the  Jewish  American  Princess  featured  in  films  of 
the  '50s  and  early  '60s,  often  portrayed  by  non- Jewish  actresses  (Natalie 
Wood  in  Marjorie  Morningstar;  Ali  McGraw  in  Goodbye,  Columbus).  Her 
emergence  to  prominence,  as  in  the  case  of  the  Jewish  male  comedian  in  the 
'50s  and  '60s,  should  be  seen  in  the  context  of  comparable  emergences  of 
self-assertive  Jewish  women  in  television  and  live  entertainment  —  one 
thinks,  among  others,  of  Selma  Diamond  and  Joan  Rivers  on  TV  talk  shows 
and  the  pop  concert  career  of  Bette  Midler.  No  less  interesting  on  screen 
in  the  same  period  is  Melanie  Mayron's  understated  New  York  Jewish 
photographer  in  Girl  Friends  (1979),  a  version  of  her  later  television  charac- 
ter in  thirtysomething ,  and  the  muted  self-assertion  of  Carol  Kane  in  Hester 

One  would  welcome,  in  any  case,  more  systematic  study  of  the  situation 
of  Jewish  women  in  American  film  —  with  regard  both  to  Jewish  and 
Gentile  actresses  playing  Jewish  roles  and  to  the  roles  themselves  and  the 
narrative  and  cinematic  strategies  that  give  them  meaning.  (In  theory,  the 
ethnicity  of  an  actor  or  actress  should  be  irrelevant  to  the  role  —  acting, 
after  all,  is  just  that:  acting  —  but  broader  ideological  factors  influence 
casting  decisions,  and  these  in  turn  become  relevant  to  the  film  depiction 
of  ethnic  experience.)  Integrating  these  and  comparable  areas  with  the 
broader  issues  of  feminist  and  gender-oriented  film  studies  is  an  important 
task,  on  which  meaningful  work,  at  the  time  of  this  writing,  is  only  just 

The  way  toward  a  more  unvarnished  sense  of  Jews  and  Jewish  life  had 
in  truth  already  been  paved  by  films  of  the  late  classical  era  —  one  thinks 

"See,  e.g.,  Sonya  Michel,  "Jews,  Gender,  American  Cinema,"  in  Feminist  Perspectives  on 
Jewish  Studies,  ed.  Lynn  Davidman  and  Shelly  Tenenbaum  (New  Haven,  1994),  pp.  244  -  69. 

JEWISH    EXPERIENCE    ON    FILM     /     27 

of  Kirk  Douglas's  "bad  boy"  roles  and  Rod  Steiger  in  The  Big  Knife,  both 
mentioned  earlier.  But  a  more  fundamental  measure  of  this  change  is  that, 
to  a  degree  not  seen  since  the  1920s,  it  had  become  possible  to  show 
something  more  like  Jewish  experience  rather  than  simply  images  of  Jews. 
This  is  not  to  suggest  that  the  category  "Jewish  experience"  is  irrelevant  to 
the  intervening  eras.  Often  it  is  there  by  its  absence:  silence,  disguise, 
implicit  Jewishness,  allegorization,  sentimentalization,  the  soft  focus  of 
Gentile  actors  in  Jewish  roles  —  all  such  evasions  of  Jewish  realities  are 
likewise  part  of  Jewish  experience,  even  when  it  is  the  larger  society  that 
has  dictated  or  encouraged  the  evasion. 

But  the  situation  is  not  as  monolithic  as  it  may  seem.  If  Jews  were  scarce 
or  merely  counterpoint  presences  in  classical  American  sound  film,  they 
were  plentiful  in  radio  and  television  in  the  same  period,  media  that  thrived 
on  the  continuous  productivity  of  theater  and  nightclub  venues,  and  they 
were  present  as  Jews,  not  concealing  (though  not  always  announcing)  their 
Jewishness:  Jack  Benny,  Milton  Berle,  Sam  Levenson,  Henny  Youngman, 
Danny  Kaye  (himself  a  film  star),  and  many  others,  including  Jerry  Lewis, 
whose  fame  abroad,  especially  in  France,  was  of  the  legendary  proportions 
accorded  Chaplin  and  Tati.  On  the  other  hand,  when  non- Anglo  ethnicity 
became  more  visible  and  popular  as  a  film  subject  in  the  1960s,  it  was  by 
no  means  free  of  stereotype,  nor  of  a  certain  labored  earnestness  —  a  glitzy, 
at  times  candied  Holly  woodization  of  Jewry  and  other  groups  that  did  not 
always  add  up  to  a  genuine  effort  to  view  Jewish  or  other  ethnic  experience 
on  its  own  terms.  Friedman's  notion  of  "The  Self-Conscious  Sixties"  thus 
rings  true  for  this  period. 

While  this  trend  continued  well  into  the  '70s  {Fiddler  on  the  Roof  was 
perhaps  its  culmination),  other  approaches  during  this  period  promised  a 
more  unassuming  but  also  more  focused  gaze  on  actual  cultural  and  histori- 
cal experience.  Joan  Mecklin  Silver's  Hester  Street  (1975),  mentioned  ear- 
lier, brings  alive  realities  of  New  York's  Lower  East  Side  at  the  turn  of  the 
century  and  includes  segments  in  subtitled  Yiddish.  Bob  Fosse's  Cabaret 
(1972),  based  on  Christopher  Isherwood's  1935  double  novel  Berlin  Stories, 
captures  the  early  days  of  the  Third  Reich  via  the  life  of  emigres  in  Berlin, 
and  has,  as  a  subplot,  the  tale  of  a  pair  of  star-crossed  Jewish  lovers.  The 
whole  is  assembled  with  a  pungently  Brechtian  evocation  of  cabaret  satire. 
Like  the  other  characters  in  the  film,  the  Jews  here  are  stylized  representa- 
tions, but  Fosse's  gift  for  creating  discontinuous  alternations  of  story  and 
music  showed  that  classical  narrative  was  not  the  only  available  structure 
for  framing  Jewish  experience.  A  similar  vision  informs  Fosse's  Lenny 
(1974),  where  the  life  —  and  later  the  disintegration  —  of  "bad  boy"  come- 
dian Lenny  Bruce  is  intercut  with  the  work,  Bruce's  nightclub  act,  and  the 
film  includes  a  powerful  portrayal  of  Bruce's  mother  by  Jan  Miner. 

28      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH     YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

In  Herbert  Ross's  film  version  of  Neil  Simon's  play  The  Sunshine  Boys 
(1975),  two  aging  Jewish  vaudeville  comedians  (Walter  Matthau,  George 
Burns)  call  a  truce  in  an  ongoing  estrangement  to  rehearse  their  act  for 
television.  The  film  is,  in  a  sense,  an  admirable  sequel  to  The  Jazz  Singer 
(far  more  than  the  1980  remake  of  that  film),  in  its  rounding  out  of  the 
historical  destiny  of  the  vaudeville  entertainer.  Burns  represents  that  seg- 
ment that  found  its  way  to  the  suburbs  and  to  placid  respectability;  Matthau 
the  resplendently  shabby  remnant  that  remained  in  the  urban  backwater  to 
ply  the  theatrical  trade.  Jews  are  never  identified  as  such  in  the  film,  but 
this  is  no  evasion,  for  Jewishness  of  a  sort  is  everywhere  present  in  the  story. 
Like  the  Jewish  comic  tradition  to  which  this  film  is  a  tacit  tribute,  Matthau 
and  Burns  seem  to  capture  opposed  alternatives  of  character  formation  in 
ghetto  tenements  of  a  former  era,  where  privacy  was  impossible,  and  where 
people  grated  on  one  another  because  they  knew  each  other  too  well. 
Matthau's  Willie  Clark  had  learned  to  yell  and  be  aggressive;  Burns's  Al 
Lewis  to  shrink  from  yelling  and  be  passive-aggressive.  Their  combination 
here  is  the  same  typical  match  of  contrasts  —  in  truth,  a  form  of  biblical 
sibling  battle  —  that  shaped  the  classic  vaudeville  act,  Jewish  and  Gentile 
alike,  with  its  perennially  self-debunking  presentation  of  self 

The  act's  comedy,  however,  like  the  story  as  a  whole,  masks  a  more 
serious  underlying  theme:  that  of  growing  old,  which  was  to  become  a 
frequent  topic  of  Jewish  experience  in  films  of  the  ensuing  years  —  notably. 
Going  in  Style  (1979),  which  likewise  featured  Burns,  here  alongside  Lee 
Strasberg,  as  two  elderly  Jews  with  their  Irish-American  cohort  (Art  Car- 
ney), in  an  unusual  version  of  the  "heist"  film;  and  Tell  Me  a  Riddle  (1980), 
Lee  Grant's  film  version  of  Tillie  Olson's  acclaimed  novelette,  which  ex- 
plores the  experience  of  an  elderly  Jewish  couple  (Lila  Kedrova  and  Melvyn 
Douglas)  who  leave  behind  their  suburban  East  Coast  home  and  travel  to 
the  West  Coast  in  a  state  of  failing  health. 

Bob  Fosse's  use  of  camera  and  story  discontinuity,  noted  earlier,  points 
to  the  impress  of  European  filmic  models  —  say,  of  Eisenstein,  Lang,  Truf- 
faut,  Fellini,  and  Bergman  —  on  many  American  directors  of  the  '70s.  This 
trend  was  markedly  influential  on  Woody  Allen.'*'  Allen's  satirical  comedies 
of  the  '60s  had  revived  the  spirit  of  Lubitsch,  Benny,  the  Marx  Brothers, 
and  Sid  Caesar  of  television's  Your  Show  of  Shows,  injecting  a  distinctive 
blend  of  parody,  fantasy,  and  schlemiel  in  such  films  as  What's  New,  Pus- 
sycat? (1965),  Take  the  Money  and  Run  (1969),  Bananas  (1971),  Play  It 
Again,  Sam  (1972),  Everything  You  Wanted  to  Know  About  Sex  but  Were 
Afraid  to  Ask  (1972),  Sleeper  (1973),  and  Love  and  Death  (1976).  Starting 

"On  Woody  Allen,  see  Sam  B.  Girgus,  The  Films  of  Woody  Allen  (Cambridge,  1993);  Eric 
Lax,  Woody  Allen:  A  Biography  (New  York,  1992);  Maurice  Yacowar,  Loser  Take  All:  The 
Comic  Art  of  Woody  Allen  (Oxford,  1991). 

JEWISH     EXPERIENCE    ON     FILM      /      29 

with  Annie  Hall  (1977),  Allen  began  to  experiment  more  boldly  with  cine- 
matic styles,  including  neo-realist  and  surrealist  modes,  and  increasingly 
playing  a  version  of  himself.  He  interspersed  Felliniesque,  surreal  fantasy, 
in  parts  of  Annie  Hall,  Zelig  (1983),  The  Purple  Rose  of  Cairo  (1985),  Radio 
Days  (1987),  Oedipus  Wrecks  (part  of  the  1989  triptych  New  York  Stories), 
and  Alice  (1990);  parody,  in  Zelig  and  Shadows  and  Fog  (1991);  and 
Bergmanesque  preoccupations,  in  taut  chamber  dramas  such  as  Interiors 
(1978),  September  (1987),  and  Another  Woman  (1988);  in  Stardust  Memo- 
ries (1980),  A  Midsummer  Night's  Sex  Comedy  (1982;  a  tribute  to  Berg- 
man's Smiles  of  a  Summer  Night),  Crimes  and  Misdemeanors  (1989),  and, 
more  recently.  Husbands  and  Wives  (1993),  which  recalls  Bergman's  Scenes 
from  a  Marriage  (one  should  also  remember  Paul  Mazursky's  1990  film. 
Scenes  from  a  Mall,  which  co-starred  Allen  with  Bette  Midler).  Many  of 
the  above  titles,  as  well  as  the  critically  acclaimed  Hannah  and  Her  Sisters 
(1986),  represent  a  focus  of  Allen's  creative  energies  on  bittersweet,  urbane 
comedies  of  yuppie  life  in  contemporary  New  York.  But  Allen's  more 
experimental  forays  into  nostalgia  for  the  past  —  specifically,  for  America 
of  the  '30s  and  '40s  —  are  something  of  a  personal  obsession,  especially 
successful  in  films  like  Zelig,  The  Purple  Rose  of  Cairo,  and  Radio  Days. 
One  should  also  keep  in  mind  Allen's  portrayal  of  a  friend  of  a  group  of 
blacklisted  screenwriters  during  the  McCarthy  era  who  allows  them  to  sell 
their  scripts  under  his  name,  in  Martin  Ritt's  The  Front  (1976). 

Zelig,  in  any  case,  is  perhaps  Allen's  most  explicit  reflection  on  Jewish- 
ness  and  ethnicity,  one  that  in  recent  years  seems  to  have  left  a  significant 
impression,  both  positive  and  negative,  on  ethnic  film  studies.""  Leonard 
Zelig,  Allen's  persona  in  this  film,  is  a  Jazz  Age  Jewish  misfit  who  undergoes 
a  form  of  psychosis  causing  him  to  metamorphose  into  a  copy  of  whoever 
he  converses  with  —  taking  on,  in  the  course  of  the  story,  the  physical 
appearance  and  dress  of  cigar-store  Native  Americans,  black  jazz  musi- 
cians, Chinese  opium  smokers.  Republican  presidents,  Babe  Ruth's  team, 
a  Mexican  mariachi  band,  and  Greek  restaurateurs,  as  well  as  the  behav- 
ioral characteristics  of  his  Gentile  analyst  (Mia  Farrow). 

The  film,  as  one  can  see,  does  not  present  ethnicity  so  much  as  icons  of 
ethnicity.  Its  tale  is  audaciously  narcissistic,  combining  Allen's  own  nostal- 
gia for  a  simpler  America,  his  then-flourishing  romance  with  Farrow,  and 
a  quite  thoughtful  parody  of  the  style  and  structure  of  historical  documen- 
tary, including  nearly  poker-faced  filmed  commentaries  by  such  pundits  as 

"See,  e.g.,  Robert  Stam  and  Ella  Shohat,  "Zelig  and  Contemporary  Theory:  Meditation  on 
the  Chameleon  Text,"  Enclitic  9,  nos.  1  -  2  (1985);  Janet  Staiger,  Interpreting  Films:  Studies 
in  the  Historical  Reception  of  American  Cinema  (Princeton,  1992),  pp.  196-209;  and  cf.  my 
own  article,  "Xeroxosis?  A  Review  of  Woody  Allen's  Zelig"  Moment  9,  no.  1  (December 
1983),  pp.  42-44. 

30      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

Irving  Howe,  Saul  Bellow,  Bruno  Bettelheim,  and  Susan  Sontag  (all  playing 
themselves)  on  what  made  Leonard  Zelig  an  American  Melting  Pot  phe- 
nomenon. Zelig's  most  extraordinary  adventure  is  his  brief  and  near-disas- 
trous identification  with  German  National  Socialists  during  Hitler's  rise  — 
which  essentially  happens  when  he  skips  therapy.  But  he  is  summarily 
rescued,  then  turns  rescuer,  flies  upside-down  across  the  Atlantic,  is  eventu- 
ally paraded  in  ticker  tape  down  Broadway,  and  marries  his  analyst. 
Throughout  his  career  as  a  standup  comic,  actor,  and  filmmaker,  Allen  took 
impressively  big  risks  by  making  his  inner  life  seem  so  central  to  his  public 
persona  and  film  stories.  It  is  rooted  in  the  way  that  nightclub  comedians 
habitually  make  themselves  a  part  of  their  jokes,  and,  as  in  the  case  of  Lenny 
Bruce,  it  is  subject  to  the  normal  occupational  hazards  of  this  most  danger- 
ous of  professions.  Comedians  are  gadflies  and  typically  invite  public  ire. 
Jewish  comedians  invite  Jewish  ire,  and  Allen  has  often  been  accused,  I 
think  wrongly,  of  being  a  "self-hating  Jew."  This  conception  jars  with 
Allen's  wholehearted  willingness  to  make  his  Jewishness  an  issue,  to  pre- 
sent, like  Benny,  the  classic  schlemiel  in  American  idioms,  and,  going 
beyond  Benny,  to  declare  it  Jewish,  and  specifically  New  York  Jewish, 
openly  and  explicitly.  All  his  other  preoccupations  —  old  jazz,  old  movies, 
classic  radio,  baseball.  New  York  life,  yuppie  morality,  European  cinema, 
and  the  unfinishable  Moby  Dick  —  flow  from  that  emphatic  claiming  of 
New  York  Jewish  home  ground.  What  it  excludes  is  a  legitimate  matter  for 
reflection,  but  what  it  encompasses  is  important. 

What  most  of  the  foregoing  film  examples  from  the  '70s  onward  have  in 
common  is  a  tendency  to  make  a  character's  (or  actor's)  Jewishness  some- 
thing other  than  the  main  point  of  his  or  her  presence  in  the  story.  We  savor 
a  character's  Jewishness  not  because  it  explains  Jewishness  but  because  it 
helps  to  explain  the  character.  While  such  a  strategy  would  seem  to  deem- 
phasize  Jewish  experience,  it  can  also  enhance  it  by  rooting  it  in  complexi- 
ties of  character  and  circumstance.  Jewishness  is  not  a  problem  but  rather 
a  natural  component  of  a  wider  social  landscape.  In  this  way,  these  films 
anticipated  the  present  era's  consciousness  of  multiculturalism,  of  a  multi- 
ethnic America,  of  difference  without  otherness.  Whether  they  also  antici- 
pated an  era  of  cultural  struggle  and  rivalry  is  less  clear,  but  the  multi-ethnic 
America  of  these  films  is  in  any  case  not  a  Garden  of  Eden,  and  Jewishness 
is  neither  evaded  nor  trumpeted. 

At  times,  however,  where  the  Jew  is  portrayed  in  mortal  struggle  with 
enemies,  as  in  Marathon  Man  (1976),  Black  Sunday  (1977),  or  The  Boys 
from  Brazil  (1979),  it  is  part  of  a  cameo  ("Jew  vs.  Arab"  in  the  second 
example;  "Jew  vs.  Nazi"  in  the  first  and  third)  that  has  itself  become  an 
American  cultural  icon.  Dustin  Hoffman  is  once  again  a  Jew  in  Marathon 
Man,  this  time  not  as  a  "bad  boy"  but  as  a  kind  of  Kafkaesque  antihero 

JEWISH     EXPERIENCE    ON     FILM      /      31 

battling  forces  he  does  not  comprehend.  This  film  and  Black  Sunday  are 
both  gripping  thrillers,  but  in  all  the  foregoing  cases  there  is  an  implicit 
reminder  that  the  struggle  of  Jew  vs.  Nazi,  or  of  Jew  vs.  Palestinian  could 
threaten  the  peace  of  civil  society  even  when  the  Jewish  cause  is  sympatheti- 
cally portrayed.  In  Black  Sunday,  the  one  potential  victim  that  perhaps 
inspires  the  greatest  emotional  identification  is  the  annual  Super  Bowl 
game.  The  film's  Israeli  protagonist  (Robert  Shaw)  saves  the  game's  specta- 
tors from  disaster,  but  he  is  unable  to  head  off  postponement  of  the  game 
itself,  which  may,  within  the  film's  ideological  horizons,  be  considered  the 
greater  loss.  Friedman's  rubric  of  "The  Self-Centered  Seventies"  may  be 
most  applicable  to  this  film,  but  it  has  some  validity,  often  at  an  implicit 
level,  for  many  other  films  of  the  period,  including  those  not  specifically 
dealing  with  Jewish  experience. 

Paradoxes  of  the  1980s 

By  way  of  introducing  certain  films  of  the  early  1980s,  attention  may  be 
drawn  to  a  barely  noticeable  moment  in  Ridley  Scott's  sci-fi  classic  Blade 
Runner  (1982),  a  film  that  portrays,  with  extraordinary  detail  and  sense  of 
style,  life  in  a  futuristic  Los  Angeles  of  the  21st  century.  This  film,  whose 
depiction  of  the  future  as  a  time  of  squalor  and  chaos  is  a  hallmark  of  the 
style  and  vision  we  have  come  to  call  "postmodern,"  presents  Los  Angeles 
as  an  economically  stratified,  multi-ethnic,  and  multi-tongued  Babel  whose 
street  life  includes  such  familiar  sights  as  Asian  food  stands,  a  downtown 
Casbah  district,  "Hare  Krishna"  chanters,  and,  notably,  a  Hassidic  Jew 
going  about  his  daily  business.  Jews  are  otherwise  not  explicitly  present  in 
this  film's  story,  but  the  image  of  the  Hassid  is  a  familiar  cultural  icon  of 
a  multi-ethnic,  urbanized  America,  one  that  could  serve  equally  well  an 
ideology  of  tolerance  (as  a  sign  of  the  thriving  vitality  of  American  urban 
life)  or  intolerance  (as  part  of  the  cultural  detritus  of  a  "mongrelized" 
America,  of  an  imperial  nation  in  decline). 

This  ideological  ambivalence  is  itself  a  hallmark  of  the  postmodern  out- 
look, but  the  film,  in  any  case,  positions  the  Hassid  at  a  key  moment  in  the 
unfolding  of  the  plot,  when  the  protagonist,  police  detective  Dekkard  (Har- 
rison Ford)  is  about  to  hunt  down  and  "retire"  (i.e.,  execute)  an  escaped 
"replicant."  The  replicants  are  exceptionally  intelligent  and  gifted  human- 
oids,  outwardly  indistinguishable  from  ordinary  humans,  possessing  emo- 
tions and  existential  angst,  who  have  been  ghettoized  in  off-world  colonies 
and  are  forbidden  to  live  on  earth.  In  its  way,  then.  Blade  Runner  has 
clearly  absorbed  the  legacy  of  the  era  of  European  catastrophe  —  when 
forbidding  an  entire  people  to  live  on  earth  was  perhaps  first  definitively 

32      /     AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

Or  has  it?  The  universalization  and  metaphorization  of  the  Holocaust  is 
another  feature  of  postmodern  vision  (although,  in  this  respect,  the  film 
does  not  differ  significantly  from  earlier  films  such  as  The  Diary  of  Anne 
Frank  and  The  Pawnbroker),  and  it  bears  directly  on  our  assessment  of 
Jewish  experience  on  film  in  more  recent  times.  This  film's  brief,  incidental, 
almost  hieroglyphic  use  of  the  Hassidic  image  is  the  hint  of  what  Fredric 
Jameson  has  called  "a  new  depthlessness"  in  the  culture  of  the  postmod- 
ern,'" reflecting  a  cybemetically  saturated  era  when  one  can  effortlessly 
change  decades  or  nations  by  inserting  a  different  cassette  into  a  VCR,  and 
therefore  when  one  no  longer  perceives  time,  history,  or  geography  in  the 
hitherto  customary  ways.  The  film's  image  of  the  Hassid  is  arguably  no 
different  in  depth  from  its  overall  implicit  analogy  between  replicant  retire- 
ment and  Hitler's  Final  Solution.  To  some  degree,  such  transfer  of  meaning 
is  praiseworthy.  Many  Holocaust  survivors,  notably  Elie  Wiesel,  have  ar- 
gued that  the  lessons  of  the  Holocaust  must  apply  today  in  places  like 
Bosnia  and  Rwanda,  and  the  broader  question  of  the  Holocaust's  historical 
uniqueness  is  still  far  from  settled.  What  is  suspicious  here  is  the  ease  of 
iconographic  ascription  by  which  the  analogy  is  effected.  Is  this  admirable 
restraint  or  callous  fudging?  It  is  hard  to  tell,  precisely  because  the  film 
depicts  a  world  in  which  historical  memory  as  such  is  no  longer  possible. 

And  yet,  paradoxically,  this  newly  laid-back  sense  of  historical  and  cul- 
tural relativity  has  as  often  worked  to  the  advantage  of  Jewish  experience 
on  film  as  to  its  detriment.  Films  of  the  1980s  and  '90s  have  essentially 
continued  the  1970s  trend  of  unselfconscious  representations  of  Jewishness, 
while  also  occasionally  making  possible  deeper  and  more  nuanced  treat- 
ments of  specific  themes.  This  has  coincided  with  the  prominence  of  a  new 
generation  of  Hollywood  or  sometime-Hollywood  Jews  (directors  like 
Steven  Spielberg,  Barry  Levinson,  Lee  Grant,  Barbra  Streisand,  Paul  Ma- 
zursky,  Rob  Reiner,  and  David  Mamet;  performers  like  Streisand,  Richard 
Dreyfuss,  Ron  Silver,  Mandy  Patinkin,  Billy  Crystal,  and  others),  many  of 
whom,  unlike  the  Hollywood  moguls  of  a  former  era,  have  openly  identified 
with  Jewishness  and  have  repeatedly  portrayed  Jewish  themes  and  charac- 
ters. These  developments  by  no  means  freed  Hollywood  from  classical 
paradigms  of  Jewish  experience,  nor  from  the  continuance  of  stereotypes, 
evasions,  and  banality  in  the  representation  of  Jews.  But  they  call  into 
question  any  hastily  conceived  litmus  tests  of  authenticity  in  evaluating  this 
output,  such  as  Patricia  Erens'  faulting  of  Tell  Me  a  Riddle  (1980)  for  its 
absence  of  "specifically  Jewish  issues,'""  or  of  Alan  Pakula's  1982  film 
version  of  William  Styron's  novel  Sophie's  Choice  for  its  "Christian  solution 

"Fredric  Jameson,  Postmodernism,  or  The  Cultural  Logic  of  Late  Capitalism  (Durham, 
N.C.,  1995),  p.  6. 
"Erens,  The  Jew  in  American  Cinema,  p.  368. 

JEWISH    EXPERIENCE    ON    FILM      /      33 

of  a  Jewish  problem."*'  Tell  Me  a  Riddle,  on  the  contrary,  brings  alive 
Jewish  experience  precisely  by  not  making  it  an  issue,  by  allowing  it  to 
emerge  in  a  natural  and  unforced  manner  as  part  of  the  landscape  of 
character  and  historical  memory.  And  although  Sophie's  Choice  allowed  a 
Gentile  survivor  of  Nazi  concentration  camps  (Meryl  Streep)  to  occupy  the 
focus  of  its  survivorship  theme,  it  dealt  with  the  psychological  scars  and 
moral  complexity  of  survivorship  in  a  newly  direct  and  unvarnished  way 
that  eventually  proved  fruitful  in  stimulating  other  film  treatments  dealing 
more  directly  with  the  Jewish  survivor.  Films  of  the  early  1980s  that  deal 
with  Jewish  experience,  at  any  rate,  manifested  somewhat  of  a  new  histori- 
cal depth  and  psychological  resonance,  which  were  to  undergo  further 
maturation  later  in  the  decade  and  into  the  present. 

Jeremy  Paul  Kagan's  1982  film  version  of  Chaim  Potok's  The  Chosen  has 
been  cited  by  Lester  Friedman  as  "one  of  the  most  interesting  pictures  of 
Jews  ever  to  emerge  from  Hollywood.'""  This  is  perhaps  a  bit  overstated, 
but  the  film  certainly  deserves  mention  in  the  present  context.  It  deals  with 
the  friendship,  in  Brooklyn  of  the  1940s,  between  a  young  man  of  Orthodox 
but  otherwise  liberal  upbringing  (Barry  Miller)  and  a  Hassidic  Jew  (Robbie 
Benson)  who  is  the  son  of  a  local  rebbe  (Rod  Steiger).  The  film  is  especially 
interesting  for  the  chunk  of  historical  time  that  it  isolates  (wartime  and 
early  postwar  New  York),  for  its  ability  to  capture  the  awakening  of  Ameri- 
can Jews  to  the  birth  of  the  Jewish  state,  and  for  its  close  look  not  only  at 
Hassidic  life  but  at  a  liberal  Orthodox  milieu  rarely,  if  ever,  portrayed  on 
film.  Intellectually  open  but  traditional  in  religious  practice,  this  milieu  has 
been  a  significant  historical  presence  in  American  Jewry.  The  film's  drama 
covers  otherwise  fairly  obvious  ground  in  obvious  ways,  but  the  fact  that 
a  story  set  almost  wholly  within  the  parameters  of  the  traditional  Jewish 
world  was  now  possible  in  American  mass  entertainment  was  itself  signifi- 

Part  of  the  same  trend  is  Barbra  Streisand's  Yentl  (1983),  a  musical 
version  of  Isaac  Bashevis  Singer's  short  story  "Yentl  the  Yeshivah  Boy." 
Streisand  had  long  sought  to  do  a  film  version  of  this  story,  and  her  produc- 
tion spent  some  $20  million  realizing  this  goal.  It  eventually  earned  her  an 
acerbic  denunciation  from  Singer  himself  for  what  he  held  to  be  its  schmaltz 
and  self-promotion,  and  it  was  not,  in  any  case,  a  box-office  hit.  But  it  has, 
perhaps,  aged  well.  The  film  reflects  Streisand's  own  genuine  respect  for 
Jewish  tradition,  and  the  loving  camera  attention  to  the  artifacts  of  Jewish 
domestic  and  religious  life,  often  in  honey-colored  lighting,  is  especially 
striking.  Two  back-to-back  musical  numbers,  one  set  in  the  yeshivah,  the 
other  in  the  well-furnished  home  of  a  prosperous  Jew,  effectively  take  apart 

"Ibid.,  p.  381. 

"Friedman,  The  Jewish  Image  in  American  Film,  p.  243. 

34      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

the  differing  worldviews  of  men  and  women  in  traditional  Jewish  Hfe  and 
belong  to  the  history  of  reflection  on  that  issue.  Streisand  has  a  good- 
humored  sense  of  paradox,  which  inhabits  this  meditation  from  start  to 
finish.  The  much  criticized  final  scene  of  the  film,  showing  Yentl  in  transat- 
lantic passage  to  New  York,  belting  out  a  traditional  Streisand  number,  is 
at  least  significant  as  offering  a  cultural,  spiritual,  and  ideological  genealogy 
of  Barbra  Streisand.  It  is  simultaneously  deeply  personal  and  resoundingly 
public.  It  points  from  the  East  European  shtetl  westward  toward  Ellis 
Island,  and  by  pointing  westward  also  points  to  California  and  the  West 
Coast.  That  a  Jewish  theme  could  become  a  mass-market  filmmaker's  per- 
sonal obsession  was  not  new,  if  we  take  note  of  Lubitsch's  deep  emotional 
investment  in  To  Be  or  Not  To  Be.  But  its  scale  was  new  and  served  perhaps 
as  a  precedent  for  Steven  Spielberg's  eventual  obsession  with  Schindler's 

Other  films  of  this  period  that  touch  on  Jewish  experience  include  Rich- 
ard Fleischer's  flaccid  1980  remake  of  The  Jazz  Singer,  which  stars  Neil 
Diamond  and  Lucie  Arnaz,  with  Sir  Laurence  Olivier  as  the  cantor  father; 
Ralph  Bakshi's  animated  feature  American  Pop  (1981),  which  traces  four 
generations  of  a  Jewish  immigrant  family  alongside  the  development  of 
American  popular  music;  Peter  Yates's  Eyewitness  (1981),  an  international 
thriller  that  features  a  villainous  Israeli  diplomat  (Christopher  Plummer), 
perhaps  the  first  such  portrayal  of  its  kind  in  American  film;  Henry  Hud- 
son's Chariots  of  Fire  (1981),  a  British  film  that  won  the  1982  Academy 
Award  for  Best  Picture,  portraying  two  athletes  —  one  a  Scotsman,  the 
other  a  Jew  —  who  ran  in  the  1924  Olympics;  Sidney  Lumet's  Daniel 
(1983),  a  well-wrought  film  version  of  E.  L.  Doctorow's  novel  The  Book  of 
Daniel,  whose  story  is  loosely  based  on  the  trial  and  execution  of  Ethel  and 
Julius  Rosenberg;  Martin  Scorsese's  King  of  Comedy  (1983),  whose  protag- 
onist, Rupert  Pupkin  (Robert  De  Niro),  clearly  an  implicit  Jew,  is  an 
autograph  hunter  and  aspiring  comedian  who  contrives  a  desperate  but 
fiendishly  clever  scheme  to  convince  a  late-night  TV  talk-show  host  (Jerry 
Lewis)  to  feature  him  on  his  program  (the  film  features  a  memorable 
performance  by  Sandra  Bernhard  as  his  acid-tongued,  floridly  wacko,  and 
explicitly  Jewish  co-conspirator);  George  Roy  Hill's  The  Little  Drummer 
Girl  (1984),  based  on  John  Le  Carre's  novel,  which  explores  moral  ambigui- 
ties of  Israeli  antiterrorism  activity  in  the  ongoing  Israeli-Palestinian  con- 
flict; Francis  Ford  Coppola's  The  Cotton  Club  (1984),  which  deals  with  the 
multi-ethnic  scene  of  American  gangsters  in  1920s  Harlem  and  includes  a 
memorable  performance  by  James  Remar  as  the  Jew,  Dutch  Schultz;  Sergio 
Leone's  Once  Upon  a  Time  in  America  (1984),  which  again  brings  Jewish 
gangsters  into  focus,  this  time  in  an  epic  tale  that  runs  for  over  three  hours 
in  its  unabridged  version;  and  Bruce  Beresford's  King  David  (1985),  a 

JEWISH    EXPERIENCE    ON     FILM      /      35 

disappointingly  shallow  effort  at  a  biblical  period  film. 

What  do  these  examples  have  in  common?  For  most  of  them,  historical 
distance;  for  some,  geographical  distance,  or  the  social  marginality  of  their 
characters  (spies,  gangsters,  losers).  But  one  should  not  make  too  much  of 
this  phenomenon  —  as  suggesting  a  distancing  or  marginalization  of  the 
Jew,  for  it  is  likewise  a  way  of  incorporating  the  Jew,  writing  the  Jew  into 
a  collective  history.  Assimilation,  in  a  sense,  moves  in  two  directions.  Just 
as  newcomers  assimilate  to  a  mainstream  culture,  the  mainstream  assimi- 
lates its  component  cultures  by  incorporating  their  historical  experience  and 
in  this  way  gradually  comes  to  look  more  like  them. 

The  Impact  of  "Shoah" 

1985  is  a  watershed  year  in  one  important  sense.  It  is  the  year  that  Claude 
Lanzmann's  monumental  nine-hour  documentary  Shoah  was  shown  to 
American  audiences.  Film  on  Holocaust  themes  had  been  relatively  dor- 
mant for  some  time,  and  now  a  French  film  was  opening  up  the  realities 
of  the  death  camps  and  their  survivors  in  an  unprecedented  manner. 
Though  the  film  did  not  have  a  widespread  popular  impact  (one  compara- 
ble, say,  to  the  1977  TV  miniseries  Holocaust),  it  did  have  an  effect  on 
filmmaking.  Here  again  was  the  filming  of  an  obsession,  which  explored  the 
memories  and  after-effects  of  the  Holocaust  through  the  eyes  and  words  of 
its  survivors  and  onetime  bystanders  and  perpetrators. 

Filmed  chiefly  in  Germany,  France,  Poland,  and  Israel,  Shoah,  unlike 
traditional  documentary  film  on  the  Nazi  era,  contains  no  archival  newsreel 
footage,  no  images  of  bodies  or  newly  liberated  death  camps,  no  Hitler 
orations  or  marching  troops.  Instead,  it  reads  the  Holocaust  in  the  faces  and 
voices  of  survivors,  in  the  often  self-serving  and  self-incriminating  anecdotes 
of  Polish  villagers  and  German  war  criminals,  in  the  shabbiness  and  desola- 
tion of  the  undismantled  Auschwitz  barracks  and  death  factories,  in  the 
disarming  beauty  of  the  Polish  countryside,  and  in  long,  hypnotic  takes  of 
the  camera  as  it  surveys  railway  lines,  rivers,  forests,  and  unmarked  grave 
sites.  It  is  an  intensely  and  unsettlingly  quiet  film,  single-mindedly  focused 
on  issues  of  moral  responsibility,  remaining  steadfastly  focused  on  the 
irreparable  damage  of  the  Holocaust,  to  its  victims  and  to  the  wider  world. 
And  yet  it  likewise  captures  the  ever-present  reality  of  silence  and  forget- 
ting, both  for  the  survivor  victims  and  for  the  one-time  perpetrators  and 
bystanders  —  captures  it  in  motion  as  a  yawning  void  that  threatens  to 
swallow  every  conversation,  every  testimony,  every  remembered  anecdote. 
The  film  insistently  asserts  a  rational  standard,  measured  in  the  Holocaust's 
toll  in  human  lives,  civility,  sanity,  and  peace  of  mind.  And  yet,  in  showing 
the  pain  and  ethical  difficulty  of  uncovering  dormant  memories,  it  know- 

36     /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

ingly  displays  the  insanity  at  the  heart  of  the  investigative  process  itself. 

It  is  hard  to  calculate  the  effect  of  this  film  on  popular  filmmaking,  but 
some  register  of  its  impact  can  perhaps  be  detected  in  films  from  the  late 
'80s  onward  —  most  notably,  on  The  Wannsee  Conference  (1987),  a  Ger- 
man film,  first  aired  on  German  television,  which  dramatized,  through  a 
tautly  written  90-minute  tale,  the  original  90-minute  meeting  of  Nazi  high 
officials  that  resulted  in  approval  of  the  Final  Solution.  Far  from  a  mere 
effort  to  duplicate  that  meeting  moment  by  moment,  the  film  presents  a 
freely  roving  narration  as  it  moves  in  and  out  of  conversations,  zeroes  in 
on  individuals  and  their  mannerisms,  portrays  backroom  political  maneu- 
vering, and  allows  dramatic  tensions  to  emerge  unconstrained  by  a  docu- 
mentary or  docudrama  format.  The  film,  in  its  way,  was  an  important 
testimony  of  public  reflection  in  Germany  on  the  war,  emphatically  declar- 
ing German  responsibility  for  the  death  camps  and  acknowledging  those 
events  as  crimes."'  In  addition  to  the  film's  implicit  debt  to  Lanzmann's 
Shoah,  it  should  be  seen  as  a  partial  reply  to  Hans  Jiirgen  Syberberg's 
seven-hour  surreal  fantasy  Hitler:  A  Film  from  Germany  (1975),  which  set 
Nazism  into  a  distinctly  "postmodern"  aura,  embracing  irrationality  as  a 
fact  of  life  and  providing  a  disturbingly  quietistic  normalization  of  German 
experience  in  the  context  of  an  inhumane  world.  Lanzmann's  Shoah  itself 
had  very  likely  been  mustered,  in  part,  as  a  reply  to  Syberberg. 

Echoes  of  Lanzmann's  film  are  perhaps  discernible  in  a  different  way  in 
Paul  Mazursky's  seriocomic  Enemies,  a  Love  Story  (1987),  based  on  Isaac 
Bashevis  Singer's  novel,  which  placed  the  experience  of  Holocaust  survivors 
into  a  newly  intimate  context.  This  is  possibly  Mazursky's  best  film,  explor- 
ing the  tragicomic  domestic  entanglements  of  a  Holocaust  survivor,  Her- 
man Broder  (Ron  Silver),  living  in  the  New  York  City  of  1949.  The  fore- 
ground of  this  film  —  Singer's  tale  itself,  respectfully  rendered  into  a  tautly 
competent  screenplay  by  Mazursky,  and  well  acted  by  a  superb  cast  (which 
includes  Mazursky  himself  in  a  key  supporting  role)  —  is  perhaps  less 
interesting  than  the  re-created  setting  of  midcentury  New  York's  bustling 
Jewish  life:  a  world  of  kosher  dairy  restaurants,  religious-articles  mer- 
chants, ubiquitous  Orthodoxy,  thriving  Yiddish  presses,  bus  trips  to  spare 
but  heymish  Catskill  resorts,  and  the  vast  thicket  of  personal  ads  from 
survivor  refugees  seeking  family  members.  This  is  a  Jewish  New  York  that 
appeared,  as  if  out  of  nowhere,  in  the  late  '40s,  unique  by  its  complicated 
blend  of  newly  arrived  refugees  and  long-settled  homeborn.  This  extraordi- 
nary commingling  would  be  witnessed  only  once  in  this  century  and  within 
a  few  years  would  lose  much  of  its  form  and  presence.  This  would  be  an 

"On  postwar  German  cinema's  relation  to  the  Nazi  years,  see,  in  general,  Anton  Kaes,  From 
Hitler  to  Heimat:  The  Return  of  History  as  Film  (Cambridge,  Mass.,  1989),  and  Eric  Santner, 
Stranded  Objects:  Mourning,  Memory,  and  Film  in  Postwar  Germany  (Ithaca,  N.Y.,  1990). 

JEWISH     EXPERIENCE     ON     FILM      /      37 

intriguing  subject  for  a  documentary  film  to  explore  in  depth,  but  Ma- 
zursky's  selective  and  stylized  treatment  of  it  is  well  crafted,  respectful,  and 
a  perfect  foil  to  the  story. 

A  major  accomplishment  of  the  story  itself  was  to  demonstrate  how 
realms  touched  by  the  Holocaust  could  be  approached  through  comedy. 
Lubitsch  had  already  shown  this  in  1942,  in  To  Be  or  Not  To  Be,  before  the 
world  knew  fully  of  the  destruction  under  way,  but  Lubitsch's  film  was  a 
flop  in  its  time,  and  humor  related  to  the  Nazi  era  was  thereafter  largely 
quelled  or  confined  to  black  comedy  (as  in  Mel  Brooks's  The  Producers)  and 
cabaret  satire  (as  in  Bob  Fosse's  Cabaret).  But  Singer  wrote  extensively 
about  survivors,  and  his  peculiarly  mordant  vision  of  the  world  translated 
surprisingly  well  to  their  experience.  As  a  disciple  of  Gogol,  Dickens,  and 
other  19th-century  masters  of  storytelling.  Singer  knew  how  to  universalize 
his  characters  without  departing  from  his  own  cultural  universe,  and  Ma- 
zursky  preserved  the  Singeresque  rhythms.  Enemies,  at  any  rate,  is  a  tale 
in  which  tragic  and  comic  are  inseparable,  a  storytelling  and  filmic  ideal, 
and  Mazursky's  thoughtful  creation  of  the  midcentury  New  York  milieu 
allows  the  film  to  say  a  great  deal,  not  just  about  survivors'  experience  as 
such  but  about  the  historical  setting  of  their  survival. 

Film  on  the  Holocaust  and  survivor  experience  should,  properly  speak- 
ing, be  set  in  the  context  of  a  now  vast  harvest  of  discussion  on  the  represen- 
tation of  Nazism  and  the  Holocaust,  discourse  that  amounts  to  a  virtual 
cultural  explosion,  which  has  grown  notably  intense  from  the  late  '80s 
onward:  explorations  of  the  Holocaust's  historical  uniqueness;'"  literary  and 
artistic  dimensions  of  Holocaust  writing  and  art;"  problems  of  historiogra- 
phy and  historical  comprehension;"  consideration  of  the  task  of  remember- 
ing and  the  nature  of  memorials;"  the  history  of  acknowledgement  and 

"See  asp.  Steven  T.  Katz,  "The  'Unique'  Intentionality  of  the  Holocaust,"  in  idem,  Post- 
Holocaust  Dialogues:  Critical  Studies  in  Modern  Jewish  Thought  (New  York,  1985),  pp.  287  - 
317;  idem,  The  Holocaust  in  Historical  Context,  vol.  1  (New  York,  1994);  Berel  Lang,  Act  and 
Idea  in  the  Nazi  Genocide  (Chicago,  1990). 

"See,  e.g.,  Sidra  DeKoven  Ezrahi,  By  Words  Alone:  The  Holocaust  in  Literature  (Chicago, 
1980);  Saul  Friedlander,  Reflections  of  Nazism:  An  Essay  on  Kitsch  and  Death  (New  York, 
1984);  Janet  Blatter  and  Sybil  Milton,  eds..  Art  of  the  Holocaust  (New  York,  1981);  Lawrence 
Langer,  The  Holocaust  and  the  Literary  Imagination  (New  Haven,  1975). 

"See,  e.g.,  Dominick  La  Capra,  Representing  the  Holocaust:  History,  Theory,  Trauma 
(Ithaca,  N.Y.,  1994);  Saul  Friedlander,  ed..  Probing  the  Limits  of  Representation:  Nazism  and 
the  "Final Solution"  (Cambridge,  Mass.,  1992);  Michael  R.  Marrus,  The  Holocaust  in  History 
(New  York,  1989);  Berel  Lang,  Writing  and  the  Holocaust  (New  York,  1988);  James  E.  Young, 
Writing  and  Rewriting  the  Holocaust:  Narrative  and  the  Consequences  of  Interpretation 
(Bloomington,  Ind.,  1988);  Hayden  White,  "The  Politics  of  Historical  Representation,"  in 
idem.  The  Content  of  the  Form  (Baltimore,  1987);  and  Lucy  S.  Dawidowicz,  The  Holocaust 
and  the  Historians  (Cambridge,  Mass.,  1981). 

"See,  e.g.,  Edward  Tabor  Linenthal,  Preserving  Memory:  The  Struggle  to  Create  America's 
Holocaust  Museum  (New  York,  1995);  Geoffrey  Hartman,  ed..  Holocaust  Remembrance:  The 

38      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH     YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

denial  of  the  Holocaust;'"  of  the  representation  of  disaster  in  Jewish  and 
other  literature,  past  and  present;"  and  matters  of  theology  and  belief  in  the 
aftermath  of  the  Holocaust." 

This  trend  has  also  spawned  research  and  evaluation  of  film  on  Holocaust 
subjects,  most  notably,  Annette  Insdorf 's  Indelible  Shadows:  Film  and  the 
Holocaust,  the  most  comprehensive  overview  of  the  area  up  to  the  1980s." 
Her  wide-ranging  essays  on  many  topics,  her  willingness  to  consider  certain 
individual  films  or  themes  in  depth,  her  involvement  with  the  international 
output  of  film,  her  engagement  both  with  film's  cinematic  language  and 
with  the  ongoing  state  of  discussion  and  reflection  on  the  Holocaust,  and 
above  all  the  compelling  moral  purpose  that  motivates  her  to  write,  make 
InsdorflTs  study  a  valuable  resource.  Also  useful  is  Judith  Doneson's  The 
Holocaust  in  American  Film,  which  confines  its  scope  to  certain  representa- 
tive films  in  the  American  milieu  that  marked  what  Doneson  calls  "the 
Americanization  of  the  Holocaust.""  Some  helpful  emphasis  is  placed  on 
idioms  of  popular  culture  and  on  questions  of  ideology,  public  opinion,  and 
historical  reception. 

Somewhat  less  successful  than  these  works  is  Ilan  Avisar's  Screening  the 
Holocaust:  Cinema's  Images  of  the  Unimaginable,^''  which  is  marred  by 
exceptionally  awkward  writing,  by  a  seemingly  random  progression  of  top- 
ics, and  by  numerous  questionable  turns  of  argument.  Even  so,  the  book 
gets  into  some  interesting  areas,  including  chapters  on  Czech  cinema,  on  the 
relation  of  modern  and  postmodern,  and  on  Chaplin's  The  Great  Dictator. 

Shapes  of  Memory  (Oxford,  1994);  Yisrael  Gutman  and  Michael  Berenbaum,  eds..  Anatomy 
of  the  Auschwitz  Death  Camp  (Bloomington,  Ind.,  1994);  Saul  Friedlander,  Memory,  History, 
and  the  Extermination  of  the  Jews  of  Europe  (Bloomington,  Ind.,  1993);  James  E.  Young,  The 
Texture  of  Memory:  Holocaust  Memorials  and  Meaning  (New  Haven,  1993);  Sybil  Milton, 
In  Fitting  Memory:  The  Art  and  Politics  of  Holocaust  Memorials  (Detroit,  1991). 

"See,  e.g.,  Deborah  Lipstadt,  Beyond  Belief:  The  American  Press  and  the  Coming  of  the 
Holocaust,  1933  -  1945  (New  York,  1986);  idem.  Denying  the  Holocaust:  The  Growing  Assault 
on  Truth  and  Memory  (New  York,  1993);  Walter  Lacqueur,  The  Terrible  Secret:  Suppression 
of  the  Truth  About  Hitler's  "Final  Solution"  (Boston,  1980);  and  David  S.  Wyman,  The 
Abandonment  of  the  Jews:  America  and  the  Holocaust,  1941  -  1945  (New  York,  1985). 

"See,  e.g.,  David  G.  Roskies,  Against  the  Apocalypse:  Responses  to  Catastrophe  in  Modem 
Jewish  Culture  (Cambridge,  Mass.,  1984);  idem,  ed..  The  Literature  of  Destruction:  Jewish 
Responses  to  Catastrophe  (Philadelphia,  1988);  Alan  L.  Mintz,  Hurban:  Responses  to  Catastro- 
phe in  Hebrew  Literature  (New  York,  1984). 

"See,  among  many  sources,  John  K.  Roth  and  Michael  Berenbaum,  eds..  Holocaust:  Reli- 
gious and  Philosophical  Implications  (New  York,  1989);  Emil  L.  Fackenheim,  To  Mend  the 
tVorld:  Foundations  of  Post-Holocaust  Jewish  Thought  (New  York,  1982);  Richard  Rubinstein, 
After  Auschwitz:  Essays  in  Contemporary  Judaism  (Indianapolis,  1966). 

"Annette  Insdorf,  Indelible  Shadows:  Film  and  the  Holocaust,  2nd  ed.  (Cambridge,  1989). 

"Judith  E.  Doneson,  The  Holocaust  in  American  Film  (Philadelphia,  1987). 

"Ilan  Avisar,  Screening  the  Holocaust:  Cinema 's  Images  of  the  Unimaginable  (Bloomington, 
Ind.,  1988). 

JEWISH     EXPERIENCE    ON     FILM      /      39 

Avisar's  overall  thesis,  in  any  case,  should  be  evaluated  in  the  light  of  the 
considerations  of  the  preceding  pages.  In  his  own  words: 

Genuine  works  on  the  Holocaust  are  rooted  in  the  necessity  to  furnish  truthful 
pictures  of  the  unprecedented  horrors,  and  they  attempt  to  convey  to  the  beholder 
the  unsettling  degrees  of  human  suffering  and  human  evil  in  the  Nazi  universe 
of  atrocities.  .  .  .  [W]e  need  to  define  the  critical  principles  which  can  contribute 
to  the  avoidance  of  inadequate  representations  in  the  form  of  compromising 
distortions  or  reprehensible  falsifications.'" 

This  is  essentially  a  restatement  of  the  old  "images"  approach,  which,  in 
truth,  is  impossible  to  expunge  from  any  study  of  Jewish  experience  on  film. 
Avisar's  thesis,  to  be  sure,  is  rooted  in  a  special  context,  one  influenced  by 
the  overwhelming  flood  of  survivor  testimony  that  began  to  reach  a  wide 
readership  from  the  '60s  onward.  The  writings  of  Primo  Levi,  Elie  Wiesel, 
Jean  Amery,  and  others  have  made  "testimony"  a  principal  imperative  of 
postwar  literature  and  film  on  the  Holocaust,  and  Lanzmann's  Shoah, 
which  receives  extensive  and  respectful  comment  by  Avisar,  is  surely  an  act 
of  testimony  carried  to  its  moral  and  artistic  limits.  But  the  fact  that  a  film 
like  Shoah  cannot  be  seen  out  of  the  context  of  other  important  films  with 
which  it  interacts,  or  which  in  turn  it  influences,  means  that  one  cannot 
address  to  these  films  the  simple  questions  that  Avisar  asks:  Is  it  "genuine"? 
Are  its  pictures  "truthful"?  Does  it  contain  "compromising  distortions"  or 
"reprehensible  falsifications"?  This  approach  is  in  danger  of  making  discus- 
sion of  film  on  the  Nazi  era  and  the  Holocaust  into  little  more  than  a  moral 
report  card.  In  any  case,  given  the  close  intertwining  of  the  history  of  film 
with  the  history  of  20th-century  tyranny,  there  is  virtually  no  film  that/a//^ 
to  be  a  "genuine"  Holocaust  film.  We  can  learn  as  much  from  a  putatively 
reprehensible  film  as  we  can  from  an  impeccable  one. 

Recent  Trends 

It  is  too  early  to  evaluate  the  present,  to  assess  the  shape  and  direction 
of  the  films  of  Jewish  experience  in  the  past  ten  years.  To  some  degree,  we 
find  a  continuation  of  the  trends  toward  unselfconscious  representation  of 
Jewish  experience  that  have  prevailed  since  the  1970s,  with  a  deepening  and 
expansion  of  their  possibilities.  In  other  ways,  we  find  a  continuation  of  the 
classical  themes  and  preoccupations  of  a  former  era.  These  trends  have 
affected  both  mainstream,  mass-market  films  and  the  much  broader  tide  of 
low-budget,  independent,  and  foreign  films  that  comprise  the  programs  of 
Jewish  film  festivals.  The  festivals,  which  are  now  an  annual  event  in  major 
cities,  have  multiplied  impressively  around  the  United  States  and  abroad  in 
recent  years  and  are  themselves  an  institution  worthy  of  study. 

'"Ibid.,  p.  1. 

40      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

Among  mass-market  films  that  come  readily  to  mind  as  subjects  for 
future  study  are  Mazursky's  Enemies,  a  Love  Story,  discussed  earlier;  Chris 
Menges'  A  World  Apart  (1988),  a  foreign  import  based  on  the  lives  of  Joe 
Slovo  and  Ruth  First,  respected  but  embattled  South  African  anti-apartheid 
activists  of  Jewish  origin  (this  latter  fact  not  mentioned  by  the  film),  seen 
from  the  vantage  point  of  their  daughter,  Shawn  Slovo,  who  wrote  the 
screenplay;  Paul  Bogart's  Torch  Song  Trilogy  (1988),  based  on  Harvey 
Fierstein's  semi-autobiographical  account  of  a  Jewish  drag-queen  enter- 
tainer, superbly  played  by  Fierstein  himself;  Bruce  Beresford's  Driving  Miss 
Daisy  (1989),  about  the  slowly  developing  friendship  between  a  well-to-do 
Alabama  Jewish  widow  and  her  black  chauffeur,  tracing  their  story  from 
the  1940s  to  the  recent  past;  Avalon  (1990),  Barry  Levinson's  saga  of  Jewish 
family  life  in  Baltimore  in  the  '40s;  Barbet  Schroeder's  Reversal  of  Fortune 
(1990),  based  on  Alan  Dershowitz's  memoir,  detailing  the  Jewish  attorney's 
defense  of  socialite  Claus  von  Bulow,  on  trial  for  attempted  murder  of  his 
wife;  Billy  Crystal's  Mr  Saturday  Night  (1992),  featuring  Crystal  as  a 
Borscht  Belt  and  TV  comedian,  whose  career  over  several  decades  is  re- 
counted; Frank  Pierson's  HBO  film  Citizen  Cohn  (1992),  based  on  Nicholas 
von  Hoffman's  biography  of  "bad  boy"  Jewish  attorney  Roy  Cohn,  famous 
for  his  role  in  the  McCarthy  era,  featuring  an  extraordinary  performance 
by  James  Woods  as  Cohn;  Robert  Mandel's  School  Ties  (1992),  about  a 
Jewish  kid  from  Scranton  on  athletic  scholarship  at  a  New  England  prep 
school,  who  encounters  the  anti-Semitism  of  his  classmates;  and  most  nota- 
bly, Steven  Spielberg's  Schindler's  List  (1993),  based  on  Thomas  Keneally's 
acclaimed  docu-novel  about  Oskar  Schindler,  the  Czech-German  entrepre- 
neur and  war  profiteer  who  sheltered  over  1,100  Jews  from  deportation  to 
death  camps. 

American  films  of  the  above  list,  which  had  separate  destinies  at  the  box 
office,  provide,  for  better  or  for  worse,  a  composite  portrait  of  mainstream 
America's  present-day  attitudes  toward  Jewishness,  or  at  least  toward  those 
themes  of  Jewishness  that  have  attained  a  certain  "classical"  respectability: 
"bad  boy"  success  stories;  the  Jewish  presence  in  modern  history;  Jews  seen 
through  the  lens  of  nostalgia;  anti-Semitism  in  the  cradle  of  Yankeedom, 
New  England;  and  Holocaust  survivors  and  near-victims.  Again,  the  fact 
that  most  of  these  films  deal  with  the  period  of  the  1940s  to  the  early  '60s, 
and  that  the  remainder  (Torch  Song  Trilogy  and  Reversal  of  Fortune)  are 
set  in  a  recent  past  now  seen  in  historical  hindsight,  is  surely  significant. 
While  it  could  suggest  that  Hollywood  is  still  uncomfortable  about  narrat- 
ing the  Jewish  present,  or  that  Jews  are  somehow  seen  as  synonymous  with 
"pastness,"  or  with  historical  memory  as  such,  the  process  likewise  demon- 
strates a  reverse  assimilation,  that  of  mainstream  culture  to  its  marginal 
components.  Although  this  is  a  trend  long  rooted  in  Hollywood  custom, 

JEWISH     EXPERIENCE    ON     FILM      /     41 

recalling  the  show-biz  biographies  in  1950s  cinema,  several  of  the  above 
films,  especially  Enemies,  a  Love  Story,  Avalon,  Citizen  Cohn,  and  Schind- 
ler's  List,  are  told  with  a  deeper  respect  for  the  historicity  of  their  subjects 
than  was  possible  in  a  previous  generation  of  cinema. 

Schindler's  List  in  particular  represents  something  of  a  milestone  in  the 
depiction  of  Holocaust  themes,  as  well  as  marking  a  distinctive  turn  in  that 
director's  output.  Filmed  superbly  in  black-and-white  by  cinematographer 
Janusz  Kaminsky,  Schindler's  List  is  mostly  quiet,  respectful,  and  dignified, 
a  genuinely  moving  film,  solidly  rooted  in  the  wartime  milieu  of  Krakow, 
Poland,  and  nearby  Zwittau,  Schindler's  home  town  in  Czechoslovakia  to 
which  he  moved  his  factory  after  its  Krakow  operations  were  closed  down. 
The  enthusiastic  reception  of  this  film,  however,  should  prompt  caution  in 
evaluating  its  cultural  impact.  Its  visual  sophistication,  superbly  crafted 
story,  and  fine  performances  do  not  conceal  the  fact  that  the  film,  in  some 
respects,  has  more  in  common  with  the  TV  miniseries  Holocaust  than  with, 
say,  Lanzmann's  truly  groundbreaking  Shoah  .*'  It  comes  close  at  points  to 
sentimentalization  of  Holocaust  realities  and  an  assimilation  of  the  wartime 
milieu  to  idioms  of  the  classical  Hollywood  style.  On  the  latter  grounds,  the 
film  can,  and  should,  be  savored  and  appreciated,  but  it  would  be  a  mistake 
to  allow  it  to  stand  as  the  last  word  on  the  subject,  as  the  Holocaust  film 
par  excellence.  Were  such  a  lionization  to  occur,  Schindler's  List  could  very 
likely  recapitulate  the  fate  of  the  1927  Jazz  Singer  (with  which  it  has  much 
else  in  common):  to  be  the  preface  to  a  long  era  of  silence  on  Jews  and 
Jewish  experience. 

Beyond  the  Mass  Market 

Schindler's  List  is  a  case  where  we  must  uncouple  the  excellence  of  a  film 
from  the  problematic  nature  of  its  enthusiastic  reception.  In  light  of  this 
problem  there  are  grounds  for  arguing  that  mass-market  film  should  not  be 
seen  as  the  sole,  or  even  main,  arena  for  the  films  of  Jewish  experience.  One 
should  look,  rather,  to  low-budget  and  independent  filmmaking,  and  to 
imported  films,  both  domains  that  have  manifested  a  richer  and  more 
variegated  approach  to  Jewish  realities.  Among  these  films,  some  of  which 
had  their  principal  airings  in  the  United  States  on  public  television  or  in 

"Lanzmann's  own  criticisms  of  Schindler's  List  were  voiced  in  an  interview  for  BBC2 
Television's  "Moving  Pictures,"  Dec.  4,  1993.  See  also  Claude  Lanzmann,  "The  Twisted  Truth 
of  Schindler's  List,"  London  Evening  Standard,  Feb.  10,  1994.  Cf.  Alvin  H.  Rosenfeld,  "The 
Americanization  of  the  Holocaust,"  David  W.  Belin  Lecture  in  American  Jewish  Affairs,  5 
(Ann  Arbor,  Mich.,  1995),  pp.  24-32.  Rosenfeld,  appropriately,  concentrates  less  on  the 
film's  obvious  artistic  merits  than  on  certain  ideological  presuppositions  endemic  to  American 
understanding  of  the  Holocaust.  For  an  evaluation  of  the  film  and  its  impact  in  the  broader 
context  of  film  on  Holocaust  subjects,  see  the  article  by  Thomas  Elsaesser  cited  in  note  69. 

42      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

urban  (not  specifically  Jewish)  film  festivals,  one  should  keep  in  mind  Eli 
Cohen's  The  Quarrel  (1991),  a  Canadian  film  based  on  Chaim  Grade's  short 
story  "My  Quarrel  with  Hersh  Rasseyner,"  about  two  Holocaust  survivors, 
one  an  atheist  writer,  the  other  a  Hassid,  who  had  been  yeshivah  students 
together  in  Poland  and  now  meet  by  chance  and  argue  about  God's  justice; 
David  Mamet's  Homicide  (1991),  about  a  Jewish  cop  in  New  York  investi- 
gating the  murder  of  a  Jewish  doctor;  Anthony  Drazan's  Zebrahead  (1992), 
the  story  of  a  Jewish  kid  in  an  interracial  romance  in  Detroit's  inner  city; 
and  Fires  in  the  Mirror  (1993),  the  public-television  airing  of  Anna  Deavere 
Smith's  live  one-woman  drama  about  tensions  between  Jews  and  blacks  that 
exploded  in  Crown  Heights  after  a  Hassidic  driver  fatally  struck  a  black 
child  in  an  auto  accident  and  another  Hassid  was  murdered  in  a  revenge 
attack.  While  not,  strictly  speaking,  a  film.  Smith's  play  is  intercut  with  film 
and  still-shot  sequences  and  represents  an  important  document  on  contem- 
porary Jewish-black  relations  in  an  urban  setting. 

This  is  the  place  to  mention  the  fine  work  that  has  been  done  in  documen- 
tary films  in  recent  years,  some  of  which  has  been  aired  on  public  television. 
These  include  Lodz  Ghetto  (1989),  Kathryn  Taverna  and  Alan  Abelson's 
extraordinary  assemblage  of  rare  footage,  in  color  and  black-and-white,  of 
life  in  the  Nazi-era  ghetto,  with  narrative  based  on  Lucien  Dobroszycki's 
A  Chronicle  of  the  Lodz  Ghetto  and  on  individual  diaries  from  the  ghetto; 
The  Partisans  of  Vilna  (1986),  Josh  Wiletzky's  film  about  Jewish  resistance 
fighters  in  and  around  the  Jewish  ghetto  in  Lithuania,  including  some 
interesting  focus  on  the  role  played  by  the  women  fighters;  and  Martin 
Ostrow's  America  and  the  Holocaust  (1994),  a  scathing  indictment  of  U.S. 
immigration  policy  in  the  era  of  the  European  catastrophe,  based  largely  on 
David  Wyman's  historical  work.  Although  Holocaust  subjects  probably 
account  for  the  bulk  of  the  output  of  Jewish-related  documentary  film,  there 
have  been  some  worthwhile  films  on  contemporary  Jewish  culture.  Michal 
Goldman's  y4  Jumpin'  Night  in  the  Garden  of  Eden  is  an  intriguing  explora- 
tion of  the  contemporary  art  of  Klezmer  music,  the  Yiddish  musical  idiom 
that  has  undergone  an  impressive  revival  in  recent  years. 

Documentaries  have  formed  one  important  component  of  the  Jewish  film 
festival  movement,  which  has  burgeoned  in  the  past  decade  in  the  United 
States  and  abroad.  Jewish  film  festivals  have  become  annual  events  in 
several  North  American  cities,  usually  extending  over  a  period  of  two  or 
three  weeks.  The  emphasis  at  these  events  is  usually  on  lesser-known  Amer- 
ican and  foreign  films  (from  Canada,  Latin  America,  Europe,  Israel,  North 
Africa,  and  other  lands),  and  on  independent  filmmakers  in  several  coun- 
tries, including  the  United  States." 

"For  a  partial  listing  of  films  shown  in  such  festivals,  see  Deborah  Kaufman,  Janis  Plotkin, 
and  Rena  Orenthal,  eds.,  A  Guide  to  Films  Featured  in  the  Jewish  Film  Festival  (Berkeley, 
Jewish  Film  Festival,  1991). 

JEWISH     EXPERIENCE    ON     FILM      /      43 

Here  is  a  sampling  from  one  such  program  held  in  the  San  Francisco  Bay 
Area  in  July  1993.  Among  documentaries  and  short  subjects,  there  were 
Connie  Marks's  Let's  Fall  in  Love:  A  Singles  Weekend  at  the  Concord  Hotel 
(U.S.,  1993),  a  thoughtful  and  good-humored  look  at  a  thriving  Jewish 
social  scene  in  the  Catskills;  Jonathan  Herman's  The  Shvitz  (U.S.,  1993),  a 
richly  textured  study  that  features  patrons,  staff,  and  neighbors  of  the  few 
remaining  public  Russian-Jewish  steambaths  in  New  York  City,  with  reflec- 
tion on  the  cultural  meaning  of  this  cherished  but  dying  institution;  Babak 
Shokrian's  A  Peaceful  Sabbath  (U.S.,  1993),  a  dramatic  short,  set  in  Los 
Angeles's  Iranian  and  Iranian-Jewish  communities,  that  explores  relations 
between  the  sexes  in  a  particularly  disenchanted  light;  Ruggero  Gabbai's 
The  King  of  Crown  Heights  (U.S.,  1992),  a  58-minute  look  at  the  Lubavitch 
community  in  Crown  Heights  and  its  charismatic  leader,  Rebbe  Menachem 
Mendel  Schneerson  (since  deceased);  and  Steve  Levitt's  Deaf  Heaven  (U.S., 
1992),  a  29-minute  film  drama  featuring  a  conversation  at  a  health  club 
between  a  young  homosexual  man  whose  lover  is  dying  of  AIDS  and  an 
elderly  Holocaust  survivor  (played  by  David  Opatoshu)  who  gives  him  a 
reason  to  go  on  living.  Films  more  directly  on  Holocaust  themes  included 
Pavel  Lozinski's  remarkable  Birthplace  (Poland,  1992),  a  documentary 
chronicling  Holocaust  survivor  Henryk  Grynberg's  trip  back  to  Poland  to 
find  out  who  murdered  his  father  during  the  war;  and  Jack  Kuper's  A  Day 
in  the  Warsaw  Ghetto:  A  Birthday  Trip  in  Hell  (Canada,  1992),  a  35-minute 
display,  with  narrative  commentary,  of  the  extraordinary  photographs  ille- 
gally taken  by  a  Wehrmacht  sergeant  during  a  visit  on  his  42nd  birthday 
to  the  Warsaw  Ghetto  in  1941. 

Among  foreign-made  feature  films,  there  were  Assaf  Dayan's  Life  Ac- 
cording to  Agfa  (Israel,  1992),  an  award-winning,  if  uneven,  fiction  film  set 
in  an  all-night  bar  in  Tel  Aviv,  whose  staff  and  patrons  bring  with  them  the 
full  array  of  social  and  political  tensions  in  contemporary  Israel;  Jacek 
Bromski's  1968  —  Happy  New  Year  (Poland,  1993),  a  fiction  film  about 
Communist  Poland's  anti- Jewish  purges  in  1968;  Andrzej  Wajda's  The 
Promised  Land  (Poland,  1974),  an  epic  film  about  the  partnership  of  a  Pole, 
a  German,  and  a  Jew  who  team  up  to  build  a  textile  factory  in  Lodz,  Poland, 
in  the  late  19th  century;  Wajda's  Korczak  (Poland,  1990),  a  tender  but 
unblinkeredly  lucid  portrait  of  Janusz  Korczak,  the  Jewish  physician  who 
ran  an  orphanage  in  the  Warsaw  Ghetto  and  who  perished  at  Auschwitz 
with  the  children  under  his  care;  and  Jens  Carl  Eblers'  Republic  of  Dreams 
(Germany,  1993),  a  surrealistic  fantasy  depicting  a  contemporary  artist's 
efforts  to  commune  with  the  late  Polish-Jewish  writer  Bruno  Schulz  by 
traveling  to  Schulz's  hometown  of  Drohobycz,  Poland. 

There  were,  as  well,  two  classic  films  in  the  festival  program:  a  beautifully 
restored  version  (with  live  organ  accompaniment)  of  Frank  Borzage's  Hu- 
moresque  (U.S.,  1920),  based  on  Fannie  Hurst's  novel,  the  melodramatic 

44      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

tale  of  a  young  Jewish  man  who  is  pressed  by  his  mother  to  become  a 
concert  violinist,  then  is  injured  in  World  War  I  and  later  enabled,  through 
his  mother's  devoted  love,  to  resume  his  career;  and  Robert  Rossen's  Body 
and  Soul  (U.S.,  1947),  mentioned  earlier,  which  starred  John  Garfield,  the 
story  of  a  Jewish  boxer  from  the  Lower  East  Side  who  must  deal  with  the 
efforts  of  a  local  crime  boss  to  fix  his  fight. 

What  is  especially  intriguing  about  this  array,  apart  from  the  intrinsic 
appeal  of  the  films  themselves,  is  its  relative  freedom  from  classical  film 
paradigms  of  Jewish  experience,  as  discussed  in  the  foregoing  pages.  In  all 
but  the  last  two  festival  films  mentioned,  Jews  are  comfortably  "out"  in  a 
variety  of  senses:  as  urban  singles,  elderly,  liberated  women,  gays  and 
lesbians;  as  working-class,  ultra-Orthodox,  Yiddish  speakers,  immigrants, 
refugees,  survivors;  as  seekers  of  vindication,  of  bodily  pleasure,  of  mes- 
sianic redemption.  If  the  festivals  themselves  have  an  ideological  underpin- 
ning it  is  that  of  multiculturalism,  except  that  here  multiple  cultures  are 
shown  to  thrive  within  Jewish  life  itself.  There  is,  to  be  sure,  preoccupation 
with  the  Jewish  catastrophe  of  the  Holocaust,  but  it  is  not  permitted  to 
engulf  the  life  of  the  present.  One  way  or  another,  the  film  festivals  have 
resulted  in  a  refreshingly  varied  and  richly  informative  selection  of  films, 
a  format  that  will,  in  time,  prove  influential  to  future  film  of  Jewish  experi- 
ence and  to  study  of  the  subject. 

One  should  also  mention  here  important  archives  and  collections  in 
Jewish  film  that  have  been  founded  in  recent  years,  notably  the  National 
Center  for  Jewish  Film  at  Brandeis  University  in  Boston,  which  has  main- 
tained a  generally  close  connection  with  the  film  festivals.  Under  the  direc- 
tion of  Sharon  Rivo,  the  center  has  pursued  restoration  work  on  film 
materials  in  danger  of  disintegration,  has  amassed  an  important  collection 
of  films  of  Jewish  experience  (including  silent  film,  Yiddish  film,  documen- 
taries, and  American  film  of  the  classical  era),  which  it  makes  available 
through  videotape  and  exhibition  rentals,  and  has  served  as  a  valuable 
archive  for  researchers  in  film  studies. 

Also  important  in  this  context  are  the  National  Jewish  Archive  of  Broad- 
casting, at  the  Jewish  Museum  in  New  York  City,  which  has  collected  more 
than  2,000  television  programs  on  Jewish  subjects,  and  the  closely  allied 
Jewish  Heritage  Video  Collection,  a  project  of  the  Jewish  Media  Fund, 
sponsored  by  the  Charles  H.  Revson  Foundation,  in  New  York  City.  The 
project  has  developed  courses,  programs,  and  video-library  materials  for 
Jewish  community  centers,  Hillel  organizations,  the  Jewish  Y,  family  edu- 
cation curricula,  public  libraries,  museums,  synagogue  youth  groups,  and 
adult  education  programs.  This  institutional  maturation  and  productivity 
in  Jewish  media  studies  will  eventually  prove  immensely  helpful  to  the 
study  of  Jewish  experience  on  film. 

JEWISH    EXPERIENCE    ON    FILM      /      45 

Conclusion:  The  Future  of  Jewish  Film  Research 

The  foregoing  pages  have  aimed  at  providing  a  broad  overview  of  films, 
film  personnel,  and  trends  that  have  played  a  major  role  in  shaping  Ameri- 
can cinema  of  Jewish  experience  in  this  century.  Some  further  reflections 
are  in  order  on  the  tasks  facing  the  investigator  of  Jewish  experience  on  film, 
in  the  context  of  the  disciplines  of  film  studies  and  Jewish  studies.  It  would 
be  impossible  to  discuss  in  the  present  space  the  full  range  and  depth  of 
problems  that  await  elucidation  by  the  historian  or  theoretician  of  the 
subject,  but  a  few  brief  suggestions  can  be  offiered. 

First,  much  room  exists  at  present  for  study  in  depth  of  particular  films. 
This  approach  has,  for  good  reasons,  been  called  into  question  by  some  film 
scholars,  both  for  its  tendency  to  imitate  slavishly  the  methods  of  literary 
textual  study  and  for  the  film  interpreter's  frequent  use  of  the  individual  film 
as  a  proof-text  for  some  preconceived  theoretical  doctrine  that  the  film  is 
alleged  to  exemplify  or  confirm."  But  close  study  of  the  individual  film  can, 
in  fact,  serve  as  a  disciplining  groundwork  for  understanding  the  full  range 
of  factors  that  create  filmic  meaning  in  a  given  historical  era,  and,  as  noted 
earlier,  such  study  has  been  largely  absent  from  existing  histories  of  the 
Jewish  image  in  film.  Provided  attention  is  given  to  the  many  dimensions 
that  make  up  a  film  —  its  concrete  devices  of  cinematic  art;  its  historical 
and  ideological  context;  its  production  and  reception;  its  relation  to  other 
films  of  its  era,  genre,  or  subject;  and  the  various  philosophical  and  cultural 
problems  arising  from  its  interpretation  —  the  individual  film  can  serve  as 
a  vitally  important  focus  for  understanding  the  historical  tensions  and 
preoccupations  that  find  their  way  to  cinematic  expression.'"  For  Jewish 
film  historians,  this  is  true  whether  one  is  dealing  with  canonically  momen- 
tous films  like  Der  Golem,  The  Jazz  Singer,  Gentleman's  Agreement,  The 
Diary  of  Anne  Frank,  Exodus,  Shoah ,  or  Schindler's  List,  or  with  neglected 
or  forgotten  films  like  Hungry  Hearts,  The  Man  I  Married,  or  The  Plot 
Against  Harry .  Addressing  the  question  of  how  it  was  possible  for  a  particu- 
lar film  to  be  made  and  released  (or  withheld,  or  ignored)  at  a  particular 
moment  in  history  can  shed  light  on  important  areas  of  Jewish  history  in 
the  countries  and  environments  where  Jews  have  lived. 

Second,  the  historian  of  Jewish  experience  on  film  will  sooner  or  later 
have  to  confront  the  vast  thicket  of  film  theory  and  explore  its  usefulness 
for  Jewish  film  studies."  As  noted  earlier,  there  is  much  that  is  wrong- 

"See,  most  recently,  David  Bordwell,  "Contemporary  Film  Studies  and  the  Vicissitudes  of 
Grand  Theory,"  in  Post-Theory:  Reconstructing  Film  Studies,  ed.  David  Bordwell  and  Noel 
Carroll  (Madison,  Wis.,  1996),  pp.  3  -  36,  esp.  24  -  26;  Noel  Carroll,  "Prospects  for  Film 
Theory:  A  Personal  Assessment,"  ibid.,  pp.  37-68,  esp.  pp.  41  -44. 

"Cf.  Tom  Gunning,  "Film  History  and  Film  Analysis:  The  Individual  Film  in  the  Course 
of  Time,"  Wide  Angle  12,  no.  3  (July  1990),  pp.  4-19. 

"Major  collections  of  essays  in  earlier  and  contemporary  film  theory  include  Gerald  Mast, 

46      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

headed  about  contemporary  film  theory,  and  many  of  its  voguish  postures, 
stale  dogmas,  and  esoteric  excesses  well  deserve  to  be  called  into  question." 
But  the  philosophical  ambition  of  this  body  of  reflection  is  praiseworthy 
nonetheless,  and  its  contentions  have  thus  proven  immensely  challenging 
and  stimulating.  Integration  of  film  study  with  the  insights  and  preoccupa- 
tions of  linguistics,  semiotics,  psychoanalysis,  anthropology,  economic  and 
social  theory,  philosophy,  aesthetics,  literary  criticism,  gender  studies,  and 
so  forth  should  continue  to  be  encouraged,  and  many  of  the  dubious  and 
unquestioned  contentions  of  contemporary  theory  should  be  polemically 
challenged.  Moreover,  there  is  a  great  deal  to  be  learned  from  rereading 
earlier  film  theoreticians  (Eisenstein,  Balasz,  Bazin,  Kracauer,  et  al.),  by 
way  of  illuminating  the  horizons  of  film  practice  in  former  eras  and  by  way 
of  discovering  unresolved  problems  that  contemporary  theory  has  mistak- 
enly declared  solved  or  obsolete."  Special  realms  of  film  theory  can  help  us 
to  illuminate  certain  specific  areas  —  such  as  spectator  identification  with 
screen  characters  and  situations;  film's  role  in  the  shaping  or  undermining 
of  belief  and  prejudice;  film  representation  of  gender,  family  relations, 
childhood,  adolescence,  and  elderly  experience,  ethnicity,  and  social  class; 
and  ways  that  the  historical  reception  of  a  film  mirrors  larger  social  forces 
—  that  have  direct  relevance  for  understanding  the  film  of  Jewish 

Thirdly,  study  of  Jewish  experience  on  film  must  seek  to  place  its  insights 
in  the  context  of  ethnic  film  studies  as  a  whole  and  the  study  of  various 
national  cinemas,  both  for  comparative  purposes  and  for  the  sake  of  under- 

Marshall  Cohen,  and  Leo  Braudy,  eds.,  Film  Theory  and  Criticism:  Introductory  Readings,  4th 
ed.  (New  York,  1992);  John  Ellis  et  al.,  Screen  Reader  1:  Cinema,  Ideology,  Politics  (London, 
1977);  Bill  Nichols,  ed..  Movies  and  Methods,  2  vols.  (Berkeley,  1976  and  1985);  Philip  Rosen, 
ed..  Narrative,  Apparatus,  Ideology:  A  Film  Theory  Reader  (New  York,  1986);  Pam  Cook,  ed.. 
The  Cinema  Book  (London,  1993). 

"See  esp.  the  articles  by  Bordwell  and  Carroll  cited  in  note  63,  and  David  Bordwell,  Making 
Meaning:  Inference  and  Rhetoric  in  the  Interpretation  of  Cinema  (see  note  5),  esp.  pp.  249- 
74.  More  sympathetic  critiques  have  been  offered  by  D.  N.  Rodowick,  The  Crisis  of  Political 
Modernism:  Criticism  and  Ideology  in  Contemporary  Film  Theory  (Berkeley,  1994),  esp.  pp. 
271  -  302,  and  Robert  B.  Ray,  The  Avant-Garde  Finds  Andy  Hardy  (Cambridge,  Mass.,  1995), 
pp.  1  -  23.  Cf.  Robert  B.  Ray,  "The  Bordwell  Regime  and  the  Stakes  of  Knowledge,"  Strategies 
1  (1988),  pp.  142-81. 

"See,  among  others,  Sergei  Eisenstein,  The  Film  Sense  (New  York,  1942,  1947),  and  idem. 
Film  Form:  Essays  in  Film  Theory  (New  York,  1949);  Bela  Balasz,  Theory  of  the  Film: 
Character  and  Growth  of  the  New  Art  (New  York,  1970);  Andre  Bazin,  What  Is  Cinema?  2 
vols.  (Berkeley,  1967,  1971);  Siegfried  Kracauer,  Theory  of  Film:  The  Redemption  of  Physical 
Reality  (Oxford,  1960).  A  1936  essay  by  Walter  Benjamin,  "The  Work  of  Art  in  the  Age  of 
Mechanical  Reproduction,"  in  idem.  Illuminations,  ed.  Hannah  Arendt  (New  York,  1969), 
pp.  217-51,  has  come  increasingly  to  haunt  contemporary  film  studies.  Cf  Ray,  The  Avant- 
Garde  Finds  Andy  Hardy,  pp.  16-  17.  Contrast  Bordwell,  "Contemporary  Film  Studies  and 
.  .  .  Grand  Theory,"  pp.  9,  21,  33. 

JEWISH     EXPERIENCE    ON     FILM      /      47 

Standing  the  broader  relation  of  minority  cultures  to  a  cosmopolitan  civil 
society."  Attention  to  the  latter  problem  will  enable  ethnic  film  studies  to 
escape  the  confines  of  narrow  interpretive  bailiwicks,  defined  by  the  life  of 
a  particular  people,  and  will  thereby  unite  specialists  in  individual  cultures 
on  questions  of  common  interest.  The  problems  America  faces  as  a  multi- 
ethnic society  are  not  far  different  from  those  facing  the  bourgeois  democ- 
racies abroad,  and  they  must,  as  well,  be  evaluated  in  relation  to  the  experi- 
ence of  various  less  bourgeois  and  less  democratic  nations  that  have  recently 
come  unmoored  from  their  Cold  War  alignments.  The  ethnic  and  religious 
fanaticism  that  has  shaken  Eastern  Europe,  the  Middle  East,  and  Africa, 
for  example,  in  the  aftermath  of  the  Cold  War  clearly  demonstrates  that  the 
establishment  of  a  viably  cosmopolitan  society  is  very  much  an  open  ques- 
tion for  any  nation,  even  for  the  most  stable  democracies.  In  such  a  context, 
current  doctrines  of  multiculturalism,  such  as  those  popular  at  present  in 
contemporary  film  studies,  have  been  both  a  help  and  a  hindrance.  They 
have  helped  by  widening  the  playing  field,  by  insisting  that  the  whole  social 
tableau  of  a  modern  nation,  and  in  particular  its  most  marginalized  compo- 
nents, be  made  relevant  to  that  nation's  cultural  history.  They  have  hin- 
dered by  often  reducing  that  history  to  a  power  game,  to  a  scenario  of 
subjugation  and  dominance;  by  failing  to  see  a  nation's  mainstream  culture 
as  a  flexible  and  protean  organism;  and  by  viewing  films  and  other  cultural 
artifacts  as  little  more  than  ideological  tracts.  These  difficulties  can,  I  think, 
be  transcended,  and  historians  and  interpreters  of  the  film  of  Jewish,  Afri- 
can, Hispanic,  and  Asian  experience,  among  others,  have  much  to  teach  one 

This  is  true  even  where  certain  historical  events,  such  as  the  Holocaust, 
have,  as  some  might  argue,  placed  Jewish  experience  beyond  the  pale  of 
translatability.  That  very  abyss  of  apparent  incommensurateness  puts  the 
Jewish  film  scholar,  more  than  ever,  in  need  of  common  ground  with  other 
ethnic  film  studies  specialists.  Fortunately,  film  on  Holocaust  subjects  has 
proven  to  be  of  interest  to  film  scholarship  at  large,  and  forms  a  central 
subject  for  those  interested  in  film's  comprehension  of  20th-century  his- 
tory.*' Sooner  or  later,  such  study  will  prove  useful  for  exploring  the  cine- 

"Useful  (and  often  faulty)  theoretical  essays  on  the  subject  by  various  authors  have  been 
offered  in  Friedman,  ed.,  Unspeakable  Images:  Ethnicity  and  the  American  Cinema  (see  note 
5).  See  also  Wohl  and  Miller,  Ethnic  Images  in  American  Film  and  Television  (see  note  7). 
A  fine  theoretical  discussion  on  the  relation  of  minority  cultures  to  civil  society  is  offered  by 
Louis  Menand,  "Diversity,"  in  Critical  Terms  for  Literary  Study ,  ed.  Frank  Lentricchia  and 
Thomas  McLaughlin  (Chicago,  1995),  pp.  336-53. 

"See,  e.g.,  the  recent  important  essay  by  Thomas  Elsaesser,  "Subject  Positions,  Speaking 
Positions:  From  Holocaust,  Our  Hitler,  and  Heimat  to  Shoah  and  Schindler's  List,"  in  The 
Persistence  of  History:  Cinema,  Television,  and  the  Modern  Event,  ed.  Vivian  Sobchack  (New 
York  and  London,  1996),  pp.  145  -  83. 

48      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

matic  response,  if  it  exists,  to  the  mass  slaughter  of  Armenians,  Gypsies, 
Kurds,  Bosnian  Muslims,  Rwandan  Tutsis,  and  other  peoples,  and  for 
understanding  the  moral,  ethical,  psychological,  and  philosophical  prob- 
lems of  comprehending  atrocity-survivor  experience  in  modern  society  at 
large.  This  could  lead  to  firmer  insights  about  the  role  of  cinema  in  both 
jeopardizing  and  enhancing  human  rights  and  intercultural  understanding. 

Finally,  the  film  of  Jewish  experience  should  be  plumbed  for  its  specifi- 
cally Jewish  historical  meaning.  Jewish  peoplehood  has  long  evolved  ac- 
cording to  its  own  internal  dialectic.  It  is  perhaps  to  the  historian  Gershom 
Scholem  that  we  are  most  indebted  for  that  insight,  and  Scholem  spent  his 
life  elucidating  the  texts  of  Jewish  mysticism  that  manifested  this  process. 
Scholem,  however,  was  deeply  interested  in  the  material  circumstances  of 
Jewish  history,  in  secular  Jewish  culture,  in  the  interaction  of  Jews  with 
their  environment,  and  in  the  emergence  of  a  post-traditional  Jewish  society 
in  modern  times.  He  advocated  close  attention  to  what  he  called  the  "base- 
ment" areas  of  Jewish  experience,  such  as  the  life  of  the  Jewish  underworld 
and  other  areas  banned  from  the  "salon"-centered  history  of  the  major 
19th-century  Jewish  historians.  As  Scholem  observed:  "Such  matters  were 
simply  disregarded  [by  the  historians].  Today,  we  have  to  collect  them  with 
the  greatest  difficulty  in  order  to  gain  a  reasonably  complete  picture  of  how 
the  Jewish  organism  functioned  in  relation  to  its  actual  environment."'"  The 
film  of  Jewish  experience  is  a  rich  register  of  such  "nonofficial"  areas  of 
Jewish  history,  and  Scholem  would  perhaps  have  welcomed  it  as  a  serious 
topic  of  Jewish  studies. 

Only  a  few  themes  of  classical  Jewish  tradition  and  folklore  have  found 
their  way  to  filmic  expression.  This  very  scarcity  is  a  problem  of  historical 
importance,  and  the  few  themes  that  have  appeared  are  thus,  for  better  or 
for  worse,  magnified  in  importance  and  suggestiveness.  In  particular,  the 
legend  of  the  Golem  and  that  of  the  Dybbuk  have  spawned  several  film 
classics  (the  1920  German  film  Der  Golem ;  the  1937  French  film  Le  Golem; 
and  the  1938  Yiddish  film  from  Poland  Der  Dybbuk).  Understanding  the 
shared  preoccupations  of  these  films,  and  the  ways  in  which  their  respective 
legends  served  as  parables  or  metaphors  of  modern  history  and  of  the  film 
medium,  and  generated  permutations  in  more  "secular"  film  stories  of 
Jewish  experience,  is  a  vitally  important  task.  The  1920  Golem ,  for  example, 
makes  the  golem  figure  a  parable  of  film  art  itself  (a  parable  facilitated  by 
the  traditional  belief  that  the  Golem's  inventor,  the  16th-century  mystic 
Rabbi  Judah  Loew  of  Prague,  was  also  the  inventor  of  the  camera  obscura, 
predecessor  to  both  photographic  and  motion-picture  camera),  and  Paul 
Wegener,  the  film's  co-director  and  star  (who  played  the  Golem),  can  be 

'"Gershom  Scholem,  "The  Science  of  Judaism  —  Then  and  Now,"  in  idem,  The  Messianic 
Idea  in  Judaism,  and  Other  Essays  on  Jewish  Spirituality  (New  York,  1971),  p.  309. 

JEWISH     EXPERIENCE    ON     FILM      /     49 

shown  to  have  exhibited  a  remarkable  prescience,  conscious  or  otherwise, 
about  the  relation  of  film  to  modern  catastrophe.  Wegener  himself  would 
later  make  films  under  Nazi  aegis,  during  the  years  of  the  Third  Reich,  and 
in  some  sense  he  already  foresaw  film's  troublesome  servitude  to  demonic 
forces  in  Der  Golem . 

Both  the  Golem  and  the  Dybbuk  legends,  and  their  filmed  portrayals, 
manifest  interesting  uses  of  motifs  of  disguise  and  metamorphosis,  and  these 
have  had  meaningful  reverberations  in  the  film  of  Jewish  experience  gener- 
ally. So  many  Jewish  film  characters  undergo  disguise  or  temporary  meta- 
morphosis that  deeper  factors  seem  to  be  at  play:  Ben  Hur  as  "the  Unknown 
Jew";  Jake  Rabinowitz  as  Jack  Robin,  Jack  Robin  as  blackface  minstrel;  the 
Golem  as  a  household  servant;  Khonnon  as  the  Dybbuk;  the  Marx  Brothers 
as  four  variegatedly  costumed  facets  of  a  single  personality;  Bressart's 
Greenberg  as  Shylock;  Ari  ben  Canaan  as  a  British  colonial  official;  Strei- 
sand's Yentl  as  a  yeshivah  boy;  Schindler's  Jews  as  wartime  munitions 
workers;  Woody  Allen's  Zelig  as  everybody.  This  fascination  with  disguise 
is  not  unique  to  the  film  of  Jewish  experience  —  it  has  affected  other  ethnic 
films'  affinity  for  tales  of  "passing"  in  an  alien  society,  or,  in  the  case  of 
Yentl  and  much  screwball  comedy,  an  alien  gender,  and  underlies,  as  well, 
science-fiction  film's  fascination  with  androids,  changelings,  and  liquid  cy- 
borgs. The  preoccupation  could,  I  believe,  if  investigated  with  appropriate 
caution  and  skepticism,  be  meaningfully  connected  with  Jewish  mysticism's 
themes  of  messianic  disguise  and  apostasy,  and  the  closely  related  Hassidic 
theme  of  "the  descent  of  the  Tzaddik,"  motifs  that  prompted  Gershom 
Scholem  to  associate  the  failed  17th-century  messianic  movement  of  Shab- 
batai  Sevi  with  the  dawning  of  Jewish  modernity  —  to  Emancipation,  Re- 
form, Zionism,  historicism,  revolutionary  politics,  and  Jewish  secular  cul- 
ture." The  broader  issues  of  exile,  catastrophe,  and  redemption  that  helped 
to  shape  early  modem  Jewish  messianism,  all  major  preoccupations  of 
Jewish  life  and  thought  from  the  Middle  Ages  onward,  have  had,  in  their 
way,  considerable  impact  on  film  history,  both  in  general  and  in  the  film 
of  Jewish  experience,  and  more  systematic  and  reflective  attention  to  these 
connections  is  an  important  task  for  the  Jewish  cultural  historian. 

The  early  Hollywood  moguls  were  themselves  distant  recipients  of  these 
vast  historical  tides.  The  East  European  immigrants  who  founded  and 
shaped  the  studio  system  may  not  have  known  directly  the  stories  and  lore 
of  a  messiah's  apostasy,  the  journey  of  disguise,  or  the  exile  of  God.  But  they 
had  it,  as  it  were,  in  their  bones.  It  was  in  the  shrug  of  the  schlemiel  and 
in  the  haberdasher's  trade;  it  was  in  their  own  assimilation  to  America,  and 
ultimately  it  was  in  American  film.  It  encompassed  America's  vision  of 

"See  Gershom  Scholem,  Major  Trends  in  Jewish  Mysticism  (New  York,  1941,  1961),  pp. 
287-324,  esp.  306ff.  Cf.  Scholem,  The  Messianic  Idea  in  Judaism,  pp.  78-  175. 

50      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

picket -fence  respectability  and  small-town  values,  of  Yankee  decency,  and, 
too,  however  muted,  of  Melting  Pot  harmony.  These  were  messianic  fanta- 
sies of  a  sort,  but  they  were  also  a  serious  vision  of  America,  and,  more 
important,  they  helped  open  up  a  public  space  where  fantasy,  belief,  and 
thought  about  America  could  thrive.  The  studio  moguls  were  perhaps 
simply  selling  another  kind  of  clothing,  a  clothing  for  the  mind.  But  they 
had  inadvertently  helped  to  create  something  of  incalculable  value  to  civil 
society:  a  national  cinema.  Like  Rabbi  Judah  Loew's  troublesome  Golem, 
however,  it  was  a  product  haunted  by  catastrophe,  and  it  did  not  weather 
innocently  an  era  of  catastrophe.  These  events,  at  a  point  of  intersection 
between  Jewish  history,  American  history,  and  film  history,  form  a  signifi- 
cant part,  though  by  no  means  the  totality,  of  the  complicated  subject  we 
call  the  film  of  Jewish  experience. 

Israelis  in  the  United  States 

by  Steven  J.  Gold  and  Bruce  A.  Phillips 

X  he  subject  of  Israeli  Jews  coining  to  settle  in  the  United  States 
is  one  that  has  generated  considerable  controversy  over  the  years,  focusing 
on  two  primary  issues:  the  actual  number  of  Israelis  who  have  come  here, 
and  their  acceptance  by  the  American  Jewish  community.  The  first,  al- 
though it  might  appear  simple,  is  in  fact  extremely  complicated,  in  part  due 
to  lack  of  adequate  data  but  equally  because  of  the  very  difficulty  of  deciding 
whom  to  include  in  such  a  count.  In  the  words  of  Israeli  demographer 
Sergio  DellaPergola,  "The  problem  of  'Who  is  an  Israeli?'  is  no  less,  and 
probably  quite  more,  complex  than  the  issue  of  'Who  is  a  Jew?'  "  Depending 
on  the  definition  used  and  on  the  available  sources  of  data,  "possibly  as 
many  as  15  or  20  different  estimates  can  be  reached."' 

The  second  issue,  how  American  Jews  relate  to  Israeli  immigrants,  is  also 
complex.  While  American  Jews  have  a  long  and  impressive  record  of  assis- 
ting newly  arrived  landsmen  from  overseas,  their  attitude  toward  the  Israe- 
lis who  have  come  to  settle  in  the  United  States  has  been  characterized  by 
a  mixture  of  suspicion,  coolness,  and  even  condemnation.  Only  recently  has 
that  attitude  begun  to  moderate  into  something  more  accepting.  It  is  true 
that  every  new  immigrant  wave  has  posed  problems  for  earlier  generations 
of  Jews,  with  the  already  estabUshed,  Americanized  Jews  typically  viewing 
the  newcomers  as  "wretched  refuse,"  uncivilized,  uncultured  individuals 
who  are  likely  to  arouse  anti-Semitism.  The  Israeli  immigration,  however, 
has  presented  an  entirely  novel  situation. 

For  one  thing,  unlike  nearly  all  Jews  entering  the  United  States  before 
or  since  World  War  II,  the  Israelis  could  in  no  way  be  construed  as  "refu- 
gees," people  who  needed  to  be  "rescued"  or  who  were  unable  to  return  to 
their  countries  of  origin.  There  were,  apparently,  no  objective  reasons  why 
Israelis  should  come  to  this  country  or  merit  support  from  American  Jews. 
To  the  contrary.  American  Jews  had  a  large  financial  and  emotional  invest- 

Note:  This  research  was  supported  by  the  Wilstein  Institute  of  Jewish  Policy  Studies,  the 
Whizin  Institute,  and  the  John  Randolph  Haynes  and  Dora  Haynes  Foundation.  Research 
assistance  was  provided  by  Debra  Hansen  and  Michal  Shachal-Staier.  We  wish  to  thank  Yoav 
Ben-Horin,  Mehdi  Bozorgmehr,  Yinon  Cohen,  Sergio  DellaPergola,  Pini  Herman,  Lilach  Lev 
Ari,  Michael  Lichter,  Eran  Razin,  Michael  Rubner,  Nama  Sabar,  and  Roger  Waldinger  for 
providing  materials,  information,  and  suggestions. 

'Personal  communication. 


52      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

ment  in  the  new  Jewish  state,  which  assumed  almost  sacred  status  as  both 
a  refuge  for  persecuted  Jews  and  the  fulfillment  of  the  centuries-old  Zionist 
dream  of  return  to  the  biblical  homeland.  While  most  American  Jews  chose 
not  to  participate  personally  in  the  "ingathering  of  the  exiles,"  they  saw 
themselves  playing  a  vital  role  by  contributing  money  and  insuring  political 
support.  The  complementary  role  of  Israelis,  in  this  view,  was  to  inhabit  and 
develop  the  land  and  defend  it.  Thus,  the  very  act  of  leaving  the  Jewish  state 
was  seen  as  abandonment  and  betrayal  of  both  the  Zionist  dream  and  the 
unspoken  compact  between  American  and  Israeli  Jews. 

Israel,  too,  has  always  viewed  emigrants  negatively.  People  who  leave  the 
country  are  commonly  referred  to  as  "yordim  "  —  a  stigmatizing  Hebrew 
term  meaning  those  who  "descend"  from  the  "higher"  place  of  Israel  to  the 
Diaspora,  as  opposed  to  immigrants,  or  "olim ,"  who  "ascend"  from  the 
Diaspora  to  Israel.  During  the  1970s,  Israeli  politicians  were  especially 
vitriolic  on  this  issue.  Prime  Minister  Yitzhak  Rabin  calling  Israeli  emi- 
grants "the  fallen  among  the  weaklings,"  others  referring  to  them  as  "moral 
lepers"  and  "the  dregs  of  the  earth."^ 

Faced,  thus,  with  a  Jewish  immigrant  population  that  did  not  fit  into  the 
"refugee"  category  and  about  which  it  had  considerable  ambivalence,  and 
bolstered  by  the  Israeli  government's  hostility,  the  organized  American 
Jewish  community's  reaction  was  "part  denial  and  part  outrage,"^  leading 
to  a  communal  policy  that  effectively  ruled  out  official  contact  with  Israeh 
migrants.  (Although  the  Soviet  Jewish  immigration  of  recent  decades  also 
prompted  objections  from  Israel  and  its  supporters,  who  believed  all  Soviet 
Jews  should  go  to  Israel,  Soviet  Jews  were  seen  as  unequivocably  meriting 
a  warm  welcome  and  maximum  support.) 

Most  of  the  literature  on  Israeli  immigrants  asserts  that  members  of  the 
group  themselves  accepted  the  negative  "yored"  stereotype,  choosing  to 
depict  themselves  as  temporary  sojourners,  students,  tourists,  "anything  but 
Jewish  settlers  seeking  to  build  new  lives  for  themselves  and  their  families 
in  the  United  States.""  As  a  result,  they  remained  marginal  both  to  Israel 
and  to  the  American  Jewish  community,  having  little  contact  with  Jewish 
institutions,  and  relatively  little  is  known  about  them.  As  two  researchers 

^Paul  Ritterband,  "Israelis  in  New  York,"  Contemporary  Jewry  7,  1986,  pp.  1 13  -  26;  Shaul 
Kimhi,  "Perceived  Change  of  Self-Concept,  Values,  Well-Being  and  Intention  to  Return 
Among  Kibbutz  People  Who  Migrated  from  Israel  to  America,"  Ph.D.  diss..  Pacific  Graduate 
School  of  Psychology,  1990. 

'Steven  M.  Cohen,  "Israeli  Emigres  and  the  New  York  Federation:  A  Case  Study  in 
Ambivalent  Policymaking  for  'Jewish  Communal  Deviants,'  "  Contemporary  Jewry  1,  1986, 
pp.  155-65. 

•■Sherry  Rosen,  The  Israeli  Corner  of  the  American  Jewish  Community  (American  Jewish 
Committee,  New  York,  1993). 

ISRAELIS     IN    THE    UNITED    STATES      /      53 

put  it,  "If  Jews  have  been  the  proverbial  marginal  people,  Israeli  emigrants 
are  the  marginal  Jews."' 

The  official  Israeli  view  of  yordim  began  to  change  in  the  mid-1980s  to 
a  more  constructive  position  of  both  encouraging  "re-aliyah"  (return  to 
Israel)  and  simply  establishing  good  relations  with  American  Israelis.  In  a 
1991  interview  Yitzhak  Rabin  recanted  his  earlier  statement:  "The  Israelis 
living  abroad  are  an  integral  part  of  the  Jewish  community  and  there  is  no 
point  talking  about  ostracism.'"  The  change  in  Israel's  attitude  in  turn 
opened  the  way  for  federations,  Jewish  community  centers,  and  other  orga- 
nizations in  this  country  to  reach  out  to  Israeli  families  —  albeit  still  with- 
out official  approval  from  national  headquarters  —  "attempting  to  treat 
these  Israelis  and  their  families  as  members,  or  at  least  'associate  members,' 
of  the  American  Jewish  community  with  a  shared  stake  in  its  future.'" 

By  the  mid-1990s,  several  demographic  trends  were  in  evidence:  a  contin- 
uing stream  of  IsraeH  immigrants  to  this  country,  a  rise  in  the  number  of 
Israelis  returning  to  Israel  to  live,  and  the  emergence  of  a  new  category  of 
"transnational,"  i.e.,  individuals  with  footholds  in  both  the  United  States 
and  Israel.  In  the  social/psychological  sphere,  Israeli  emigres  showed  evi- 
dence of  growing  self-acceptance  along  with  signs  of  willingness  to  identify 
with  American  Jewish  communal  life. 

This  article  presents  a  profile  of  Israelis  in  the  United  States  based  on  a 
wide  range  of  demographic  and  sociological  studies,  focusing  on  three 
related  topics.  The  first  is  the  demographics  of  the  migrant  population  — 
its  size  and  composition  in  terms  of  age,  family  structure,  occupational  and 
ethnic  characteristics,  and  the  like;  the  second  is  the  motivation  of  those 
who  choose  to  leave  Israel.  The  third  area  concerns  the  adaptation  of 
Israelis  to  American  life.  Are  they  becoming  a  viable  American-Jewish 
subgroup,  or  do  they  remain  marginal  men  and  women  who  see  their 
presence  here  only  as  a  temporary  sojourn? 

Sources  of  Data 

The  primary  quantitative  data  used  in  this  article  come  from  our  own 
analyses  of  three  sources:  (1)  The  Council  of  Jewish  Federations  1990 
National  Jewish  Population  Survey  (NJPS);  (2)  the  1991  New  York  Jewish 

'Drora  Kass  and  Seymour  Martin  Lipset,  "Jewish  Immigration  to  the  United  States  from 
1967  to  the  Present:  IsraeHs  and  Others,"  in  Understanding  American  Jewry,  ed.  Marshall 
Sklare  (New  Brunswick,  N.J.,  1982),  p.  289. 

'Cited  in  Matti  Golan,  fVitfi  Friends  Like  You:  What  Israelis  Really  Think  About  American 
Jem  (New  York,  1992). 

'Rosen,  The  Israeli  Corner,  p.  3. 

54     /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

Population  Study  conducted  by  New  York  UJA-Federation  (N.Y.  Study); 
and  (3)  special  tabulations  run  from  the  1990  U.S.  Census,  using  the  5-per- 
cent Public  Use  Microsample  ("PUMS")  files  for  New  York  and  Los  An- 
geles (New  York  City  and  Los  Angeles  County).' 

Each  of  these  sources  has  advantages  and  limitations.  The  NJPS,  a  na- 
tional survey,  has  a  relatively  small  sample  of  Israelis;  the  N.Y.  Study  a 
significantly  larger  one.  Both  NJPS  and  the  N.Y.  Study  asked  only  place 
of  birth,  not  country  of  last  residence,  thus  excluding  Israelis  born  outside 
the  State  of  Israel.  (Methods  for  compensating  for  this  are  discussed  below.) 
However,  these  studies  ask  several  questions  regarding  Jewish  behavior  and 

The  U.S.  Census  is  rich  in  a  variety  of  information,  but  is  not  very  well 
suited  to  the  accurate  counting  of  small,  tightly  cloistered,  recent  migrant 
populations,  like  Israelis.  In  the  words  of  demographer  David  Heer:  "When 
American  population  statistics  are  inadequate,  they  will  normally  be  found 
to  be  so  in  terms  of  underenumeration  and  underestimation  of  minority 
groups,  defined  in  terms  of  race  or  national  origin  and  concentrated  in 
specific  neighborhoods."'"  The  census  also  includes  the  responses  of  non- 
Jewish  Israelis  (e.g.,  Armenians  and  Palestinians)  along  with  Israeli  Jews. 
(How  this  is  dealt  with  is  discussed  below.)  Further,  while  the  census 
provides  data  on  economic  status,  it  does  not  ask  about  religion  and  thus 
offers  no  information  about  Jewish  behavior. 

We  also  rely  on  the  small  number  of  published  studies  of  Israelis  that 
have  been  carried  out,  which  are  useful  but  suffer  from  various  shortcom- 
ings." Surveys  with  large  samples  of  Israelis  are  built  on  problematic  sample 
designs,'^  while  surveys  that  employ  reliable  probability  samples  include 

'The  census  files  with  the  best  data  on  Israehs  are  available  only  for  Standard  Metropolitan 
Statistical  Areas,  "SMSAs."  We  chose  New  York  and  Los  Angeles  because  these  two  cities 
have  the  largest  populations  of  Israelis  and  also  can  be  used  to  compare  Israelis  on  the  West 
and  East  coasts. 

'See  Barry  Kosmin  et  al..  Highlights  of  the  CJF  1990  National  Jewish  Population  Survey 
(Council  of  Jewish  Federations,  New  York,  1991)  and  Bethamie  Horowitz,  The  1991  New 
York  Jewish  Population  Study  (UJA-Federation,  New  York,  1993). 

'"Heer,  David  M.,  Readings  on  Population  (Englewood  CliflFs,  N.J.,  1968),  p.  174. 

"Zvi  Sobel,  Migrants  from  the  Promised  Land  (New  Brunswick,  N.J.,  1986);  Moshe  Sho- 
keid.  Children  of  Circumstances:  Israeli  Immigrants  in  New  York  (Ithaca,  N.Y.,  1988);  Dov 
Elizur,  "Israelis  in  the  U.S.,"  AJYB  1980,  vol.  80,  pp.  53  -  67;  Pini  Herman,  "Jewish-Israeli 
Migration  to  the  United  States  Since  1948,"  paper  presented  at  the  Annual  Meeting  of  the 
Association  of  Israel  Studies,  New  York,  June  7,  1988;  Ritterband,  "Israelis  in  New  York"; 
David  Mittelberg  and  Zvi  Sobel,  "Commitment,  Ethnicity  and  Class  Factors  in  Emigration 
of  Kibbutz  and  Non-Kibbutz  Population  from  Israel,"  International  Migration  Review  24,  no. 
4,  pp.768  -  82. 

"Snowball  samples,  for  example,  which  rely  on  obtaining  additional  respondents  through 
referrals  from  persons  already  contacted;  and  convenience  samples,  which  fill  a  numerical 

ISRAELIS    IN    THE     UNITED    STATES      /      55 

only  a  small  number  of  Israelis.  For  example,  the  few  studies  devoted 
exclusively  to  the  study  of  Israelis  that  have  applied  some  form  of  random 
sampling  techniques  identified  Israelis  through  records  of  persons  who  had 
become  U.S.  citizens."  Because  migrants  from  any  nation  who  become  U.S. 
citizens  tend  to  be  among  the  most  established  members  of  their  group, 
these  studies  do  not  represent  the  totality  of  their  population  in  the  United 
States.  In  addition,  because  people  tend  to  change  residences  with  some 
frequency  (causing  address  records  to  become  rapidly  outdated),  respon- 
dents to  these  surveys  were  selected  from  those  who  had  become  citizens 
in  the  years  immediately  prior  to  data  collection  —  thus  excluding  long- 
term  residents. 

A  study  sample  drawn  exclusively  from  the  boroughs  of  Brooklyn  and 
Queens  in  New  York  —  areas  of  heavy  Israeli  settlement  but  with  a  lower 
socioeconomic  standing  than  other  parts  of  metropolitan  New  York  (with 
the  exception  of  the  Bronx)  —  excludes  Israelis  who  live  in  more  affluent 
neighborhoods.'"  Thus,  these  sampling  frames  effectively  exclude  large  frac- 
tions of  the  marginal  (noncitizens)  and  the  most  successful  (long-natural- 
ized Israelis  and  residents  of  affluent  communities). 

Most  studies  of  Israelis  in  the  United  States  have  been  conducted  in  New 
York  City,"  a  few  in  Los  Angeles  '*  and  Chicago."  New  York  and  Los 

quota  of  the  needed  type  of  respondent.  Consequently,  both  of  these  sampHng  techniques  are 
hkely  to  include  a  selection  bias. 

"Pini  Herman  and  David  LaFontaine,  "In  Our  Footsteps:  Israeli  Migration  to  the  U.S.  and 
Los  Angeles,"  MSW  thesis,  Hebrew  Union  College,  1983;  Mira  Rosenthal,  "Assimilation  of 
Israeli  Immigrants,"  Ph.D.  diss.,  Fordham  U.,  1989. 

"Rosenthal,  "Assimilation  of  Israeli  Immigrants." 

"  Shokeid,  Children  of  Circumstances;  Elizur,  "Israelis  in  the  U.S.";  Nira  H.  Lipner,  "The 
Subjective  Experience  of  Israeli  Immigrant  Women:  An  Interpretive  Approach,"  Ph.D.  diss., 
George  Washington  U.,  1987;  Ritterband,  "Israelis  in  New  York";  David  Mittelberg  and  Mary 
C.  Waters,  "The  Process  of  Ethnogenesis  Among  Haitian  and  Israeli  Immigrants  in  the  United 
States,"  Ethnic  and  Racial  Studies  15,  no.  3,  1992,  pp.  412  -  35;  Rosenthal,  "Assimilation  of 
Israeli  Immigrants." 

"Steven  Gold,  "Israelis  in  Los  Angeles"  (Wilstein  Institute  of  Jewish  Policy  Studies,  Los 
Angeles,  1992);  idem,  "Patterns  of  Economic  Cooperation  Among  Israeli  Immigrants  in  Los 
Angeles,"  International  Migration  Review  28,  no.  105,  1994,  pp.  114-35;  idem,  "Israeli 
Immigrants  in  the  U.S.:  The  Question  of  Community,"  Qualitative  Sociology  17,  no.  4,  1994, 
pp.  325  -  63;  Naama  Sabar,  "The  Wayward  Children  of  the  Kibbutz  —  A  Sad  Awakening," 
Proceedings  of  Qualitative  Research  in  Education  (College  of  Education,  U.  of  Georgia, 
Athens,  1989);  Herman,  "Jewish-Israeli  Migration";  Herman  and  LaFontaine,  "In  Our  Foot- 
steps"; Michal  Shachal-Staier,  "Israelis  in  Los  Angeles:  Interrelations  and  Relations  with  the 
American  Jewish  Community,"  MBA  thesis,  U.  of  Judaism,  Los  Angeles,  1993. 

"Natan  Uriely,  "Israeli  Immigrants  in  Chicago:  Variations  of  Ethnic  Attachment  Across 
Status  Groups  and  Generations,"  Ph.D.  diss.,  U.  of  Illinois,  Chicago,  1993;  idem,  "Rhetorical 
Ethnicity  of  Permanent  Sojourners:  The  Case  of  Israeli  Immigrants  in  the  Chicago  Area," 
International  Sociology  9,  no.  4,  1994,  pp.  431  -45;  idem,  "Patterns  of  Identification  and 

56      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

Angeles  account  for  roughly  half  of  Israelis  in  the  United  States.  The  other 
half  are  dispersed  throughout  the  United  States,  living  in  mid-sized  and 
smaller  Jewish  communities.  It  may  be  that  Israelis  who  gravitate  to  smaller 
communities  or  those  furthest  from  the  largest  Jewish  centers  are  different, 
that  they  have  weaker  ties  to  Israel  and  Jewishness  than  those  in  the  large 
cities,  and  thus  that  studies  including  them  would  yield  different  findings. 

Finally,  much  existing  research  on  Israelis  in  the  United  States  was 
carried  out  during  the  1970s  or  early  1980s  when  (and  often  because)  the 
relationship  between  both  the  Israeli  government  and  the  American  Jewish 
community  and  Israeli  emigres  was  more  hostile  than  currently.  Such  stud- 
ies tend  to  overemphasize  the  role  of  conflict  between  Israelis  and  American 
Jews  and  slight  the  extent  of  communal  organization  and  cooperation  that 
has  developed  over  the  last  decade. 

The  profile  we  provide  also  relies  on  qualitative  data,  much  of  it  from 
work  conducted  in  Los  Angeles  by  Steven  Gold  emphasizing  ethnic  solidar- 
ity and  adaptation  strategies.  It  draws  upon  94  in-depth  interviews  with 
Israeli  immigrants  and  others  knowledgeable  about  the  Israeli  community; 
participant  observation  data  gathered  at  a  variety  of  Israeli  community 
activities;  and  a  convenience-sample-based  survey  of  Israeli  immigrants 
collected  during  1991-92."  Natan  Uriely  and  Moshe  Shokeid  have  also 
conducted  field  studies  of  Israeli  emigrants  in  the  United  States;  Zvi  Sobel 
studied  departing  Israelis  in  Israel." 

All  told,  the  present  study  seeks  to  cast  a  wide  net,  encompassing  and 
analyzing  as  broad  an  array  of  available  data  as  possible. 


In  1981,  Jewish  Agency  executive  director  Shmuel  Lahis  issued  a  report 
citing  up  to  500,000  Israeli  emigrants  in  the  United  States,  based  on  his  own 
investigations.^"  A  major  study  of  Jewish  immigration  reported  300,000 
Israelis  in  the  United  States  in  1979,  and  revised  this  estimate  upward  to 
350,000  Israelis  by  1981.^'  A  few  years  later  the  Jewish  Federation  Council 
of  Los  Angeles's  Commission  on  Israelis  put  the  number  of  Israelis  in  that 

Integration  with  Jewish  Americans  Among  Israeh  Immigrants  in  Chicago:  Variations  Across 
Status  and  Generation,"  Contemporary  Jewry  16,  1995,  pp.  27-49. 

|*N  =  96.  Gold,  "Israelis  in  Los  Angeles." 

"Uriely,  "Rhetorical  Ethnicity  of  Permanent  Sojourners";  idem,  "Patterns  of  Identification 
and  Integration";  Shokeid,  Children  of  Circumstances;  Sobel,  Migrants  from  the  Promised 

"Shmuel  Lahis,  "The  Lahis  Report"  (Jewish  Agency,  Jerusalem,  1981),  reprinted  in  Yisrael 
Shelanu,  Feb.  1,  1981. 

^'Kass  and  Lipset,  "Jewish  Immigration,"  pp.  272  -  94. 

ISRAELIS    IN    THE    UNITED    STATES      /      57 

city  in  the  range  of  80,000  to  100,000."  During  the  1980s,  common  wisdom 
had  it  that  New  York  had  well  in  excess  of  100,000  Israeli  residents. 

As  the  current  debate  about  the  impact  of  immigration  on  the  larger 
American  society  demonstrates,  it  is  virtually  impossible  to  come  up  with 
an  accurate  and  specific  enumeration  of  any  foreign -bom  population." 
Although  paucity  of  data  —  including  the  noted  deficiencies  of  the  census 
—  presents  problems  for  the  study  of  all  immigrants,  especially  for  the 
smaller  groups,  in  the  case  of  Israelis  there  is  also  a  problem  of  definition. 
As  noted  earlier,  different  definitions  of  "Who  is  an  Israeli?"  —  depending 
on  the  availability  of  data  sources  —  will  yield  quite  different  estimates.  For 
Jewish  purposes,  for  example,  a  count  of  Israelis  should  distinguish  between 
Jews  and  non-Jews,  since  many  Israeli  Arabs  (Christians  and  Muslims)  as 
well  as  Armenians  have  come  to  this  country  over  the  years.  But  even 
definitions  limited  to  Jews  may  be  more  or  less  inclusive,  for  example: 
Israeli-bom  Israelis  ("sabras,"  as  the  native-born  are  dubbed)  who  come 
here  as  immigrants,  Israeli-born  Israelis  who  come  here  as  students  or  as 
professionals  for  unspecified  periods  of  time;  children  born  in  Israel  who 
come  here  at  a  young  age;  individuals  born  in  Europe  or  elsewhere  who 
lived  for  a  year  or  two  in  Israel;  individuals  born  in  Europe  or  elsewhere 
who  lived  for  many  years  in  Israel;  American-born  individuals  who  lived 
in  Israel  for  a  year  or  more;  Americans  married  to  Israelis;  American-born 
children  of  Israelis,  and  so  on.  Estimates  based  on  any  of  these  definitions 
could  be  considered  legitimate,  based  on  the  researcher's  assumptions  and 

The  approach  of  the  present  authors  will  be  to  present  several  estimates 
derived  from  analyses  of  different  data  sources.  These  are  the  entrance  and 
exit  data  collected  by  Israeli  border  control;  entrance  and  exit  data  collected 
by  the  U.S.  Immigration  and  Naturalization  Service  (INS);  the  U.S.  Census; 
and  demographic  studies  of  Jewish  communities  in  the  United  States,  in 
particular  the  1990  National  Jewish  Population  Survey  and  the  1991  New 
York  Jewish  Population  Study.  The  estimates  presented  here  provide  what 
can  be  considered  a  plausible  range  for  the  number  of  Israelis  in  the  United 

Israel  Central  Bureau  of  Statistics  (Border  Control  Data) 

The  Israeli  Border  Police  record  the  exits  and  entrances  of  Israeli  resi- 
dents. However,  since  there  is  no  legal  definition  of  a  "yored,"  it  is  impossi- 

"Jewish  Federation  Council  of  Greater  Los  Angeles,  Council  on  Jewish  Life,  Report  of 
Commission  on  Israelis,  June  1983,  p.  2. 

"Michael  E.  Fix  and  Jeffrey  S.  Passel,  Immigration  and  Immigrants:  Setting  the  Record 
Straight  (Urban  Institute,  Washington,  D.C.,  1994). 

58      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

ble  to  know  who  has  left  permanently  and  who  is  traveling  as  a  tourist,  a 
student,  or  on  business.  The  Israel  Central  Bureau  of  Statistics  analyzed  the 
border  control  data  and  computed  a  "gross  balance"  of  581,000  Israelis 
living  abroad  during  the  period  1948-  1992."  In  other  words,  there  were 
581,000  more  exits  from  Israel  than  re-entries  on  the  part  of  Israeli  residents 
(i.e.,  persons  living  in  Israel  whether  native-bom  or  born  elsewhere).  About 
half  of  the  persons  leaving  Israel  named  the  United  States  as  their  destina- 
tion. Assuming  that  they  stayed  in  the  United  States,  and  that  no  other 
Israelis  came  to  the  United  States  via  other  countries,  the  "gross  balance" 
of  Israelis  residing  in  the  United  States  would  be  290,500. 

But  not  all  "Israelis"  are  Jews.  As  Israeli  sociologist  Yinon  Cohen  has 
observed,  there  are  significant  economic  pressures  inducing  Israeli  Arabs  to 
emigrate  to  the  United  States."  How  many  of  the  emigrants  to  the  United 
States  from  Israel  were  Jews  and  how  many  were  Arabs,  Armenians,  or 
other  non-Jews?  Zvi  Eisenbach,  working  from  Israeli  data,  has  calculated 
that  about  74  percent  of  American  Israelis  are  Jews."  Thus,  the  gross 
balance  of  Israeli  Jews  in  the  United  States  over  the  period  1948  -  1992  is 
adjusted  down  to  216,000. 

From  this  number  the  present  authors  subtracted  25,000  persons  who 
would  have  died,  leaving  191,000.  Since  the  gross  balance  subtracts  re- 
entrances  to  Israel  from  exits  out  of  Israel,  the  authors  subtracted  18,400 
more  persons  who  may  be  assumed  to  have  returned  to  Israel  in  1993  (the 
number  that  re-entered  Israel  in  1992),  for  an  adjusted  gross  balance  of 
172,848  Jewish  Israelis  living  in  the  United  States. 

U.S.  Immigration 

As  noted,  the  Israeli  exit/entrance  data  do  not  distinguish  between  trav- 
elers abroad  and  actual  emigrants.  On  the  other  side  of  the  Atlantic,  the 
U.S.  Immigration  and  Naturalization  Service  (INS)  does  make  this  distinc- 
tion. Israelis  arrive  in  this  country  by  ship  or  plane,  and  their  arrivals  are 
recorded  by  one  or  more  official  documents.  Israelis  who  arrive  on  tempo- 
rary visas  are  recorded  separately  from  Israelis  who  apply  for  some  sort  of 
immigrant  status.  The  "Application  for  Immigration  Visa"  is  handled  in 
Israel  by  the  Consular  Service  of  the  State  Department.  After  the  arrival 
of  the  immigrant  in  the  United  States,  the  INS  processes  the  "Immigrant 

""Indicators  of  the  Number  of  Israeli  Residents  Abroad,  1992,"  Supplement  to  the  Monthly 
Bulletin  of  Statistics,  Israel  Central  Bureau  of  Statistics,  no.  6,  1994. 

"Yinon  Cohen,  "Self-Selection  and  Economic  Progress  of  Immigrants:  Arab  and  Jewish 
Immigrants  from  Israel  and  the  Territories  in  the  U.S.,"  Israel  Studies,  forthcoming,  1996. 

"Zvi  Eisenbach,  "Jewish  Emigrants  from  Israel  in  the  United  States,"  in  Papers  in  Jewish 
Demography  1985,  ed.  U.O.  Schmelz  and  S.  DellaPergola  (Jerusalem,  1989). 

ISRAELIS    IN    THE    UNITED    STATES      /      59 

Visa  and  Alien  Registration"  form.  The  INS  also  processes  and  documents 
permanent  residence  through  the  "Memorandum  of  Creation  of  Record  of 
Lawful  Permanent  Residence"  form.  These  are  all  applications  for  some 
kind  of  permanent  residence  status.  Israelis  can  also  apply  for  citizenship 
using  the  "Application  to  File  Petition  for  Naturahzation."  Some  Israelis 
who  arrive  as  tourists  and  students  overstay  their  visas  and  remain  as 
"illegal  immigrants."  Conversely,  some  proportion  of  Israelis  who  have 
applied  for  permanent  residency  return  to  Israel. 

Researcher  Pini  Herman,  an  expert  on  INS  data,  has  estimated  93,000 
Israelis  in  the  United  States."  He  started  with  a  figure  of  140,500  Israelis 
who  appUed  for  immigrant  status  between  1948  and  1990.  From  this  num- 
ber he  subtracted  the  estimated  number  of  returnees  to  Israel,  which  he 
derived  from  two  longitudinal  studies  of  Israeli  immigrants.  In  one  study 
the  return  rate  was  47  percent,  and  in  the  other  it  was  33  percent  (which 
Herman  considers  too  low).  From  this  he  derived  a  range  of  between  74,465 
and  94,135  Israelis  who  remained  in  the  United  States  after  applying  for 
immigrant  status.  Drawing  upon  other  research  on  illegal  immigration  to 
the  United  States,  Herman  estimated  23,000  Israeh  "illegals"  who  over- 
stayed their  visas  for  a  resulting  estimate  of  between  97,465  and  117,135 
Israelis.  Herman  considers  this  an  upper  limit  because  it  does  not  adjust 
downward  for  mortality. 

Both  the  INS  data  and  the  Israeh  border  control  data  share  a  common 
source  of  uncertainty:  how  many  Israelis  returned  to  Israel  after  a  sojourn 
in  the  United  States?  This  uncertainty  in  the  quantitative  data  is  paralleled 
by  a  comparable  uncertainty  in  the  quaUtative  research.  Many  Israelis 
interviewed  were  uncertain  about  whether  they  wanted  to  live  in  the  United 
States  permanently,  and  if  not,  about  how  long  they  would  remain  before 
returning  to  Israel. 

U.S.  Census 

The  U.S.  Census  provides  data  on  place  of  birth.  In  1980  there  were 
67,000  Israeli-bom  persons  enumerated  who  had  Uved  in  the  United  States 
for  six  months  or  more.^'  In  the  1990  census  this  number  had  increased  by 
almost  34  percent  to  90,000.^'  The  90,000  figure  must  first  be  adjusted  down 

"Pini  Herman,  "A  Technique  for  Estimating  a  Small  Immigrant  Population  in  Small  Areas: 
The  Case  of  Jewish  Israelis  in  the  United  States,"  in  Studies  in  Applied  Demography ,  ed.  K. 
Vaninadha  Rao  and  Jerry  W.  Wicks  (Population  and  Society  Research  Center,  Bowling  Green, 
Ohio,  1994),  pp.  81-99.  Herman  was  the  first  to  examine  data  from  the  Immigration  and 
Naturalization  Service  on  Israelis. 

"Eisenbach,  "Jewish  Emigrants  from  Israel." 

"U.S.  Census,  Special  Tabulations,  Foreign  Born  Population  By  Place  of  Birth,  downloaded 
by  Pini  Herman  from  the  U.S.  Census  "GOPHER"  site  on  the  Internet. 

60     /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

to  exclude  non- Jewish  Israelis  and  then  upward  again  to  include  an  estimate 
of  non-native-bom  Israelis.  The  census  does  have  a  question  on  "ancestry," 
in  which  non-sabras  can  identify  themselves  as  Israelis  and  Arabs  can 
identify  as  "Palestinians."  However,  these  data  were  not  available  nation- 
ally,^" so  other  sources  were  used  for  these  estimates. 

Using  data  which  differentiate  between  Jews  and  Arabs  leaving  the  coun- 
try, Eisenbach  found  that  the  proportion  of  non-Jews  in  the  Israeli  popula- 
tion abroad  was  highest  in  the  1950s  and  1960s,  when  Arabs  who  left 
Palestine  in  1948  made  their  way  to  the  United  States"  (many  settling,  for 
example,  in  "metro"  Detroit).  Overall,  he  estimated  that  between  69  per- 
cent and  73  percent  of  the  Israeli-born  population  in  the  1980  census  were 
Jews.  In  his  analysis  of  the  1980  U.S.  Census  data,  Eisenbach  also  calculated 
the  proportion  of  non-native-born  Israeli  Jews  for  each  period  of  immigra- 
tion up  through  1980.  The  present  authors  applied  his  procedures  to  the 
1990  census  for  each  period  of  immigration  through  1990  and  arrived  at  an 
estimate  of  193,000  Jewish  Israelis  living  in  the  United  States  as  of  1990. 

NJPS  and  N.  Y.  Study 

The  CJF  1990  National  Jewish  Population  Survey  included  a  question  on 
place  of  birth.  Phillips  and  Herman  analyzed  this  data  set  to  come  up  with 
an  estimate  of  close  to  90,000  Israeli-born  persons  —  almost  identical  to  the 
number  in  the  1990  census."  To  estimate  the  number  of  non-native-bom 
Israelis,  they  used  the  question  on  time  spent  in  Israel.  They  assumed  that 
all  North  African-,  Middle  Eastern-,  and  European-born  Jews  who  spent 
a  year  or  more  in  Israel  were  emigres,  and  came  up  with  an  additional  3,500 
Israelis.  However,  the  question  was  asked  only  of  respondents,  and  thus 
spouses  or  other  household  members  who  may  have  lived  in  Israel  were  not 
counted.  Assuming  that  the  estimate  of  non-native  Israelis  was  off  by  half, 
the  Herman-Phillips  estimate  for  the  total  number  of  Israelis  would  be 

For  the  present  article  Phillips  did  a  similar  analysis  using  the  1991  New 
York  Jewish  Population  Study,  which  had  a  larger  overall  sample  than  the 
NJPS  and,  because  Israelis  are  concentrated  in  New  York,  a  larger  absolute 
number  of  Israeli  interviews  to  work  with.  The  N.Y.  Study  did  not  have  a 
question  on  time  spent  in  Israel,  so  a  different  technique  had  to  be  employed 

"They  were  used  to  identify  Israelis  in  the  analysis  of  the  New  York  and  Los  Angeles 
"PUMS"  files. 

"Eisenbach,  "Jewish  Emigrants  from  Israel." 

"Pini  Herman  and  Bruce  Phillips,  "Israeli  Jewish  Population  and  Its  Percentage  of  the 
American  Jewish  Population  in  the  United  States,"  paper  presented  to  the  Population  Com- 
mission of  the  International  Geographic  Union,  Los  Angeles,  Apr.  6,  1990. 

ISRAELIS     IN    THE    UNITED    STATES      /      61 

to  estimate  the  number  of  non-native-born  Israelis.  Each  household  with  an 
Israeli-born  person  was  examined  individually.  A  foreign-born  person  mar- 
ried to  a  sabra  who  had  married  that  person  prior  to  moving  to  the  United 
States  was  counted  as  an  Israeli.  This  procedure  produces  an  estimated 
27,000  Israeli  Jews  living  in  the  greater  New  York  Jewish  community  — 
22,000  Israeli-bom  persons,  plus  5,000  non-native-born  Israelis  and  chil- 

An  estimate  of  the  total  number  of  Israelis  in  the  United  States  can  be 
arrived  at  from  the  N.Y.  figures,  as  follows:  Start  with  a  figure  of  30,000 
in  New  York  (knowing  that  the  27,000  figure  is  a  conservative  one);  add 
15,000  for  Los  Angeles  (based  on  Herman  and  Phillips  estimate  that  there 
are  twice  as  many  Israelis  in  New  York  as  in  Los  Angeles";  double  that 
figure,  since  New  York  and  Los  Angeles  account  for  half  of  the  Israelis  in 
the  United  States,  to  arrive  at  a  national  estimate  of  90,000. 

Although  the  estimates  cited  above  use  divergent  data  sources  and  em- 
ploy different  methods  of  calculation,  they  are  all  based  on  a  common 
strategy.  Each  estimate  begins  with  a  known  number  from  a  primary  data 
source  that  is  relevant  to,  but  not  a  direct  or  comprehensive  count  of,  the 
Israelis  in  the  United  States.  In  each  case,  the  source  is  missing  some  vital 
information.  For  example,  estimates  based  on  the  "gross  balance"  of  exits 
and  entrances  from  and  to  Israel  include  both  Jews  and  non-Jews  and  don't 
distinguish  between  emigrants  and  temporary  travelers;  estimates  using  the 
U.S.  Census  have  only  the  number  of  native-born  Israelis;  and  so  forth. 
Each  procedure  then  derives  an  estimate  of  the  total  number  of  Israelis  in 
the  United  States  by  filling  in  the  missing  information  from  a  separate  and 
unrelated  secondary  data  source. 

There  are  two  sources  of  divergence  in  the  estimates.  The  first  is  the  lack 
of  comparability  among  the  primary  data  sources  (e.g.,  exits  and  entrances 
enumerated  in  Israel  versus  persons  listing  Israel  as  their  place  of  birth  in 
the  U.S.  Census).  The  second  is  the  accuracy  of  the  secondary  data  sources 
(e.g.,  the  ratio  of  native-born  Israelis  to  non-native-born  Israelis),  all  of 
which  have  limitations. 

The  primary  and  secondary  data  sources  for  each  estimation  procedure 
are  summarized  in  table  1.  Given  the  number  of  steps  where  error  is 
inevitably  introduced,  it  is  remarkable  that  the  estimates  fall  into  a  rela- 
tively compact  range  of  between  100,000  and  200,000  Israelis  in  the  United 
States.  Even  the  largest  estimate  is  considerably  smaller  than  the  figures 
once  widely  publicized  and  accepted. 

"P.  Herman  and  B.  Phillips,  paper  presented  to  meeting  of  the  Population  Commission  of 
the  International  Geographical  Union,  Los  Angeles,  Aug.  6,  1992. 

62      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 



Adjustments  Made  on 

No.  of 


the  Basis  of 




Secondary  Data  Source 

Gold  &  Phillips 


NY  Study 

(1)  Distribution  of 
Israelis  nationally 

Phillips  &  Herman 


NJPS,  1990 

(1)  %  Sabra 


97,465  - 


(1)  %  Jewish 


(2)  %  who  returned  to 

(3)  Estimated  number 
of  illegal 

Gold  &  Phillips 


Israel  Central 

(1)  Proportion  in 

Bureau  of 

United  States 


(2)  Proportion  Jewish 


(3)  Adjustment  for 

Police  Data) 

(4)  %  who  will  return 
to  Israel 

Gold  &  Phillips 


US  Census  1990 

(1)  %  Jewish 

(2)  %  Sabra 


Analyzing  data  from  the  NJPS,  Phillips  and  Herman  were  able  to  break 
down  the  Israeli-American  population  by  generation  status  in  Israel  and  to 
identify  American-born  children  of  Israeli  parents.  They  estimate  that  there 
are  12,000  Israeli-born  children  in  the  United  States  as  compared  with  over 
3 1 ,000  American-born  children  of  at  least  one  Israeli  parent.  The  former 
are  presumably  included  in  the  figures  cited  above.  Should  the  latter  be 
counted  as  Israelis?  One  argument  for  counting  them  is  that  they  are  being 
raised  in  an  Israel-derived  household,  are  exposed  to  Israeli  influences,  have 
Israeli  relatives,  and  are  often  thought  of  by  their  parents  as  "Israeli."  The 
data  analyzed  by  Phillips  and  Herman  suggest  that  this  is  not  entirely  the 

ISRAELIS     IN    THE    UNITED    STATES      /      63 

case,  however,  since  two  out  of  three  American-born  children  of  Israelis 
have  one  American-born  parent. 

Patterns  of  Migration 

The  major  data  sources  all  show  a  steady  acceleration  of  Israeli  immigra- 
tion, particularly  after  1970.  According  to  census  data  from  New  York  and 
Los  Angeles,  one-third  of  Israelis  came  since  1985,  and  roughly  two-thirds 
since  1975.  Of  the  two  communities,  Los  Angeles  Israelis  are  more  recent 
arrivals.  (See  table  2.)  The  growth  of  Israeli  immigration  is  also  evident  in 
the  INS  data  on  arrivals  from  Israel  and  applications  for  citizenship.  A 
review  of  26  years  of  the  flow  of  legal  migration  from  Israel  to  the  United 
States  found  that  number  slowly  increasing  from  about  1,000  per  year  in 
1948  to  almost  6,000  a  year  by  1979." 

It  is  much  harder  to  measure  the  rate  of  return  of  Israelis  to  Israel, 
because  there  is  considerable  movement  back  and  forth  between  the  two 
countries  and  a  growing  class  of  "transnationals,"  sometimes  referred  to  as 
"birds  of  passage,"  individuals  who  are  citizens  or  legal  residents  of  both 
countries  and  whose  business  or  work  has  them  living  in  both  countries  for 
longer  and  shorter  periods  of  time. 

Israeli  government  sources  report  that  the  number  of  Israelis  returning 
home  has  increased  substantially  since  1992  —  the  year  that  marked  the 
election  of  the  peace-oriented  Labor  Party  in  Israel  and  a  major  economic 
recession  in  the  United  States  —  aided  undoubtedly  by  an  intensified  official 

"Herman,  "A  Technique  for  Estimating,"  pp.  90-91. 

TABLE  2.      ISRAELIS  in  LOS  ANGELES  and  new  YORK,  BY  PE- 


Los  Angeles 

New  York 

1985  -  90 



1980  -  84 



1975  -  79 



1970  -  74 



1965  -  69 



1960  -  64 






Pre- 19  50 



Source:  1990  Census. 

64     /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

outreach  policy  toward  expatriates.  During  1985  -  1991  the  annual  average 
number  of  returnees  was  5,500;  during  1992-  1994,  10,500  returnees;  and 
14,000  returned  in  1993  and  in  1994."  A  booming  economy  in  Israel  has 
clearly  encouraged  this  increased  return  migration. 

Motives  for  Migration 

When  asked  why  they  came  to  the  United  States,  most  Israelis  offer  one 
of  three  overlapping  responses:  economic  opportunities  (including  educa- 
tion), family  factors,  and  a  need  for  broader  horizons."  A  fairly  large 
number,  generally  women  and  children,  came  to  accompany  their  husbands 
and  fathers  who  sought  economic  betterment  and  educational  opportunity. 
Another  family-based  reason  for  migration  was  for  unification  with  rela- 
tives already  living  in  the  States.  Several  respondents  had  links  to  America 
prior  to  their  emigration,  which  initially  made  them  consider  moving  and, 
once  they  did,  facilitated  the  adjustment  process.  Among  these  were  Israelis 
married  to  Americans. 

Israelis  who  were  self-employed  prior  to  migration  and  retain  their  entre- 
preneurial pursuits  here  assert  that  the  United  States  is  a  better  location  for 
capitalistic  endeavors  than  Israel,  because  there  are  fewer  regulations  and 
controls  and  lower  taxes." 

While  most  Israelis  enter  the  United  States  with  specific  goals  of  educa- 
tion, economic  and  career  advancement,  or  family  unification,  some  arrive 
as  part  of  a  "secular  pilgrimage"  of  world  travel  that  is  a  common  rite  of 
passage  among  Israelis  following  their  military  service."  This  pattern  has 
been  less  commonly  observed  in  Midwestern  locations  like  Detroit  and 
Chicago  than  in  coastal  cities  like  New  York  and  Los  Angeles,  because  the 
former  are  unlikely  stopping  points  for  international  travelers.  Instead, 
migrants  come  to  these  "backwaters"  for  specific  reasons:  to  take  a  job, 
attend  school,  or  join  friends  or  relatives." 

Israelis  interviewed  in  Los  Angeles  and  New  York  described  how  they 
had  come  to  the  United  States  as  part  of  their  travels,  picked  up  a  job  to 
earn  some  cash  and  then  had  "gotten  stuck"  —  because  of  economic  oppor- 

""Going  Home,"  supplement  to  Yisrael  Shelanu ,  1995  (Hebrew).  Produced  in  cooperation 
with  the  Office  of  Returning  Residents,  Israel  Ministry  of  Absorption. 

"Rosen,  The  Israeli  Corner;  Sobel,  Migrants  from  the  Promised  Land;  Herman,  "Jewish- 
Israeli  Migration  to  the  United  States  Since  1948." 

"  Uriely,  "Rhetorical  Ethnicity  of  Permanent  Sojourners";  Steven  Gold,  "Patterns  of  Eco- 
nomic Cooperation  Among  Israeli  Immigrants  in  Los  Angeles,"  International  Migration 
Review  28,  no.  105,  1994,  pp.  114-35. 

"Ilan  Ben-Ami,  "Schlepers  and  Car  Washers:  Young  Israelis  in  the  New  York  Labor 
Market,"  Migration  World  20,  no.  1,  1992,  p.  22. 

"Uriely,  "Rhetorical  Ethnicity  of  Permanent  Sojourners." 

ISRAELIS    IN    THE    UNITED    STATES      /      65 

tunities,  relationships,  or  other  factors  —  for  a  period  longer  than  they  had 
initially  planned.""  Isaac  described  this: 

Israel  is  a  country  that  is  not  easy  to  live  in.  Everybody  finishes  the  army  after 
three  or  four  years.  After  the  army,  you  understand  life  diflferently.  So  you  are 
ready  to  try  something  else.  I  came  to  Los  Angeles,  and  then  I  met  my  wife  and 
that's  how  I  started.  I  got  into  the  clothing  business  and  I  stayed.  We  had  kids. 
Since  then,  I'm  in  clothing.  I  haven't  done  anything  but  clothing.*' 

In  Los  Angeles,  a  number  of  Israelis  commented  that  their  travels  to 
Latin  America  prior  to  arrival  in  the  United  States  had  allowed  them  to 
become  competent  enough  in  Spanish  to  communicate  easily  with  Latino 
workers."  This  was  a  definite  asset  and  an  inducement  to  stay  on,  since 
many  found  work  in  labor-intensive  industries  such  as  garments  or  con- 
struction, which  have  a  predominantly  Spanish-speaking  labor  force.*' 

Finally,  like  various  groups  in  both  previous  and  current  migrant  flows, 
Israelis  are  involved  in  chain  migration.  The  presence  of  established  co- 
ethnics  in  the  host  society  is  an  attraction  as  well  as  a  valuable  resource  for 
later  migrants.**  Israelis  also  ease  their  resettlement  in  the  United  States  by 
residing  in  the  Jewish  neighborhoods  of  Queens  and  Brooklyn  in  New  York 
City,  and  Beverly-Fairfax,  West  Hollywood,  Pico-Robertson,  and  the  San 
Fernando  Valley  in  Los  Angeles;  North  Miami  Beach,  Florida;  Troy  and 
Farmington  Hills,  Michigan,  and  Devon  and  Skokie  in  the  Chicago  area.*' 


An  additional  explanation  for  Israeli  emigration  is  the  desire  to  get  away 
from  the  confines  of  the  Jewish  state.  Because  direct  criticism  of  the  Jewish 
state  is  regarded  by  those  living  beyond  its  borders  as  disloyal,  it  is  voiced 
relatively  infrequently  by  emigres.  However,  in  explaining  why  they  left 
Israel,  certain  migrants  describe  feelings  of  disillusionment  or  a  general 
attitude  of  not  being  able  fit  into  the  social  order.  According  to  an  Israeli 
government  estimate,  about  5  percent  of  all  permanent  emigrants  do  so  for 
ideological  reasons.*' 

"Ben-Ami,  "Schlepers  and  Car  Washers";  Gold,  "Israelis  In  Los  Angeles." 

"Quoted  extracts  are  from  interviews  conducted  by  Steve  Gold. 

''One  building  contractor  placed  ads  in  the  Spanish-language  press  to  hire  helpers. 

"Gold,  "Patterns  of  Economic  Cooperation." 

"Michael  J.  Piore,  Birds  of  Passage  (New  York,  1979);  George  J.  Borjas,  Friends  or  Stran- 
gers (New  York,  1990);  Ivan  Light  and  Edna  Bonacich,  Immigrant  Entrepreneurs  (Berkeley, 
1988);  Douglas  S.  Massey,  Rafael  Alarcon,  Jorge  Durand,  and  Humberto  Gonzalez,  Return 
toAztlan  (Berkeley,  1987). 

"Mehdi  Bozorgmehr,  Claudia  Der-Martirosian,  and  Georges  Sabagh,  "Middle  Easterners: 
A  New  Kind  of  Immigrant"  (Lewis  Center  for  Regional  Policy  Studies,  UCLA,  1995),  mimeo; 
Herman  and  LaFontaine,  "In  Our  Footsteps";  Rosen,  The  Israeli  Corner. 

""Going  Home." 

66      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

Several  respondents  asserted  that  they  left  Israel  in  order  to  avoid  the 
constant  threat  of  war  and  violence.  This  motive  was  mentioned  in  terms 
of  both  the  Yom  Kippur  War  and  the  invasion  of  Lebanon,  as  well  as  by 
the  descendants  of  Holocaust  survivors.  A  Los  Angeles-based  Israeli  psy- 
chotherapist describes  many  of  her  co-national  patients  as  war  refugees; 

Those  who  come  to  my  office  now  are  the  result  of  the  first  Lebanon  war.  This 
is  a  wounded  group.  For  them,  the  idealism,  the  Zionist  goals  are  gone.  Now  they 
are  saying  "I  want  to  make  money.  I  need  time  out,  [away  from]  the  pressure 
cooker  [atmosphere].  How  many  more  times  am  I  going  to  go  to  war?  I  am  sick 
and  tired  of  going  to  the  army,  the  reserves  and  everything." 

Another  reason  for  leaving  is  perceived  ethnic  discrimination.  As  a  na- 
tion of  immigrants,  Israel  is  ethnically  diverse.  A  significant  distinction 
exists  between  the  higher-status  Ashkenazic  (European-origin)  group  and 
the  lower-status  Oriental  and  Sephardic  Jews,  whose  origins  are  North 
Africa  and  the  Middle  East."'  Most  Israelis  assert  that  ethnic  discrimination 
against  Sephardic  and  Oriental  Jews  has  been  reduced  significantly  since  the 
1950s;  however,  "[t]he  ethnic  factor  does  play  a  role  of  some  importance 
in  some  departees'  decision  to  move.""'  A  Yemeni-origin  Israeli  woman 
with  a  degree  in  education  explains  her  decision  to  exit: 

I  remember  one  time  my  brother  came  to  my  mom  and  he  asked  her,  "What  is 
Ashkenazy?"  And  "What  is  Temany?"  Another  time  we  went  to  visit  my  aunt 
in  Tel  Aviv.  And  there  the  kids  were  telling  us,  "Black,  black,  you  guys  are  black. 
Go  from  here,  go  from  here." 

I  was  trapped  between  the  two  worlds  and  I  really  had  a  rough  time.  Socially  it 
was  terrible  for  me.  I  did  not  find  myself.  I  think  that  in  a  way  I  was  afraid  to 
face  [Israeli]  society.  I  was  afraid  not  to  fit  in.  Even  though  I  had  the  knowledge 
and  the  education,  I  was  afraid  of  not  being  accepted. ...  I  didn't  have  the  support 
system  around  me  to  fit  me  in.  .  .  .  discrimination  was  part  of  it.  I  just  did  not 
see  myself  teaching  in  Israel.  I  just  thought  that  America  would  be  better.  I  did 
not  know  too  much  about  it.  I  just  decided  to  come. 

And  an  Oriental  Jew  in  Chicago  describes  his  motivation  for  leaving: 

I  am  of  Kurdish  origin,  and  in  Israel,  the  Polish  elite  treated  us  as  trash.  They 
acted  as  if  they  were  better  than  us.  Being  Sephardic  was  associated  with  being 
primitive  or  being  Chah-Chah  [riff-raflp.  When  I  came  to  Chicago,  I  left  all  of  this 
behind.  Nobody  treated  me  as  an  inferior  Sephardic.  Here  I  see  Polish  people  who 
are  lower  than  me.  I  see  a  different  reality,  and  it  makes  me  angry  about  what 
I  went  through  in  Israel."' 

Finally,  some  emigres  maintain  that  they  simply  felt  uncomfortable 
within  the  Israeli  environment,  that  the  nation  is  too  small,  conformist, 

"'Uriely,  "Patterns  of  Identification";  Sammy  Smooha,  Israel:  Pluralism  and  Conflict 
(Berkeley,  1978);  U.  O.  Schmelz,  Sergio  DellaPergoIa,  and  Uri  Avner,  "Ethnic  Differences 
Among  Israeii  Jews,"  AJYB  1990,  voi.  90,  pp.  80-111. 

"Sobel,  Migrants  from  the  Promised  Land,  p.  217. 

"Uriely,  "Patterns  of  Identification,"  p.  35. 

ISRAELIS     IN    THE     UNITED    STATES      /      67 

competitive,  and  socially  demanding  for  their  liking.  In  his  book  on  Israeli 
emigration,  Zvi  Sobel  asserts:  "Repeatedly  I  was  struck  by  the  extent  and 
depth  of  frustration  expressed  by  a  wide  range  of  individuals  with  respect 
to  this  factor  of  limited  opportunity  that  is  tied  to  a  natural  and  unassailable 
limitation  of  smallness  —  physical  and  demographic."'" 

Israeli  Emigration  in  World  Perspective 

On  the  level  of  the  individual,  a  decision  to  leave  Israel  can  be  explained 
in  terms  of  personal  situations  and  choices.  On  the  societal  level,  emigration 
can  be  understood  not  merely  as  the  sum  of  individual  decisions  but  as  part 
of  a  larger  "world  system"  perspective  that  connects  the  experience  of 
Israelis  with  the  broad  flows  of  contemporary  international  migration.  In 
this  view,  isolated  individuals  moving  from  one  place  to  another  are  part 
of  a  large-scale  interconnected  process  wherein  shifting  social,  economic, 
and  demographic  realities  yield  fundamental  changes  in  social  and  eco- 
nomic relationships  both  between  and  within  nations.  Especially  in  recent 
years,  the  expansion  of  international  links  in  capital,  technology,  transpor- 
tation, and  communication  has  accelerated  the  cross-national  movement  of 
information,  finance,  goods  —  and  migrants." 

For  a  number  of  macrosociological  reasons,  Israelis  can  be  considered 
likely  candidates  for  international  migration.  First,  because  they  are  rela- 
tively recent  arrivals  to  the  Jewish  state,  their  numbers  probably  contain 
many  individuals  with  a  propensity  to  move  on."  Second,  as  Jews,  many 
Israelis  have  access  to  a  long  tradition  as  middlemen,  entrepreneurs,  and 
the  like  —  skills  that  can  be  plied  in  various  national  settings.  Third,  many 
have  direct  connections  to  the  United  States  —  through  relatives,  educa- 
tion, the  military,  and  work.  These  provide  both  information  about  oppor- 
tunities and  assistance  in  resettlement.  Finally,  the  State  of  Israel  has  many 
social,  economic,  cultural,  and  political  links  with  the  United  States  which 
contribute  to  a  sense  of  familiarity  and  and  make  integration  relatively 

Israeli  demographer  Sergio  DellaPergola  has  shown  that  the  post- World 
War  II  migration  of  Jews  has  generally  followed  a  pattern  of  movement 
from  less  developed  areas  of  the  world  (the  periphery)  to  more  economically 
central,  advanced   regions,   demonstrating  that  economic  improvement 

'"Sobel,  p.  77. 

"Douglas  S.  Massey,  Joaquin  Arango,  Graeme  Hugo,  Ali  Kouaouci,  Adela  Pellegrino,  and 
J.  Edward  Taylor,  "Theories  of  International  Migration:  A  Review  and  Appraisal,"  Population 
and  Development  Review  19,  no.  3,  pp.  431  -  66. 

"Herman  and  Phillips,  analyzing  data  from  the  1990  National  Jewish  Population  Survey, 
found  that  the  majority  of  the  Israeli-born  Jewish  population  (69  percent)  were  themselves  the 
children  of  immigrants  to  Israel. 

68      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

ranks  with  nationalism  as  a  major  force  behind  Jewish  migration.  Since,  in 
this  analysis,  the  United  States  and  other  Western  nations  are  more  devel- 
oped economically  than  Israel,  emigration  of  Jews  from  Israel  to  the  United 
States  is  consistent  with  the  general  trend  in  Jewish  migration."  DellaPer- 
gola  further  suggests  that  the  pattern  of  Israeli  emigration  does  not  appear 
"to  reflect  any  major  crisis  that  might  have  occurred"  but  is  characterized 
"by  frequent  and  short-term  ups  and  downs,  broadly  comparable  to  those 
of  the  typical  business  cycle."'" 

Given  the  incentives  for  migration,  the  proportion  of  immigrants  who 
subsequently  re-migrate  from  Israel  is  not  as  high  as  one  might  expect.  It 
is  comparatively  lower  than  for  countries  like  the  United  States,  Argentina, 
Brazil,  Australia,  and  New  Zealand,  which  also  experienced  large-scale 
immigration.  While  the  absolute  number  of  Jewish  emigrants  from  Israel 
has  tended  to  increase  over  the  years,  the  rate  of  emigration  has  been 
relatively  low  and  stable,  between  3  and  4  per  1,000  inhabitants  per  year." 


Age,  Sex,  and  Marital  Status 

Israelis  are  a  young  population.  According  to  the  1990  U.S.  Census,  79 
percent  of  Israelis  in  New  York  and  81  percent  of  Israelis  in  Los  Angeles 
are  under  age  45.  The  1991  New  York  Jewish  Population  Study  shows  an 
almost  identical  age  profile  (table  3).  Israelis  in  the  New  York  survey  are 
the  youngest  Jewish  nationality  group  as  well:  89.6  percent  of  Israelis  in 
New  York  are  under  50,  compared  with  75.2  percent  of  native-bom  Jews 
and  50.5  percent  of  the  rest  of  the  Jewish  foreign-born  population.  On  both 
coasts,  there  are  more  males  than  females.  New  York's  community  is  55 
percent  male,  while  Los  Angeles's  is  54  percent  male. 


Based  on  1990  data  (N.Y.  Study),  Israeli  households"  in  New  York  are 
more  likely  to  consist  of  married  couples  than  are  foreign-born  or  native- 

"Sergio  DellaPergola,  "Israel  and  World  Jewish  Population:  A  Core-Periphery  Perspec- 
tive," in  Population  and  Social  Change  in  Israel,  ed.  Calvin  Goldscheider  (Boulder,  Colo., 
1992),  pp.  39-63. 

"Sergio  DellaPergola,  "World  Jewish  Migration  System  in  Historical  Perspective,"  paper 
delivered  at  the  International  Conference  on  "Human  Migration  in  a  Global  Framework,"  U. 
of  Calgary,  Alberta,  Canada,  June  1994. 


"Defined  as  household  headed  by  an  Israeli  or  with  an  Israeli  spouse. 


































ISRAELIS    IN    THE    UNITED    STATES      /      69 


Age  Group 

65  + 

Sources:  1990  Census,  PUMS;  1991  NY.  Jewish  Population  Study. 
Totals  may  not  add  to  100%  due  to  rounding. 

bom  Jewish  households  (67  percent  for  Israelis  as  compared  with  62  per- 
cent of  non-Israeli  foreign-born  households  and  52  percent  of  native-born 
Jewish  households).  Conversely,  only  13  percent  of  Israeli  households  are 
single-person  households  as  compared  with  28  percent  of  other  foreign-born 
as  well  as  native-bom  households.  The  differences  are  even  more  dramatic 
when  children  are  considered.  Israeli  households  are  more  than  twice  as 
likely  as  other  foreign-born  households  or  native-born  Jewish  households 
to  consist  of  a  married  couple  with  children  under  18  (55  percent  versus  23 
percent  for  both  foreign-  and  native-born). 

Marriages  between  Israelis  and  Americans  are  fairly  common.  In  1986, 
over  a  third  of  all  Israelis  with  immigrant  status  in  the  United  States  were 
married  to  an  American  citizen.  "One  out  of  four  Israelis  married  the  U.S. 
citizen  outside  the  U.S.,  probably  in  Israel,  and  the  rest  married  in  the 
U.S.""  A  survey  of  naturalized  Israelis  in  Los  Angeles  found  that  of  the 
80  percent  who  were  married,  35  percent  were  married  to  American  Jews; 
49  percent  were  married  to  other  Israelis;  8  percent  to  European  or  South 
American  Jews;  and  8  percent  to  non-Jews." 

"Herman,  "A  Technique  for  Estimating,"  p.  92. 
"Herman,  "Jewish-Israeli  Migration,"  p.  20. 

70      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

Ethnic  and  National  Origins 

Different  studies  have  found  different  proportions  of  Ashkenazim  and 
Sephardim  among  Israelis  in  this  country.  The  1980  New  York  Jewish 
Population  Study  reported  that  7  percent  of  Israeli-born  immigrants  were 
Sephardic/Oriental  Jews,  while  the  1980  census  data  showed  16  percent." 
In  another  New  York  study,  45  percent  of  respondents  reported  themselves 
as  Ashkenazic,  42  percent  as  Sephardic/Oriental,  and  13  percent  as  a 
mixture  of  both.'"  In  one  Los  Angeles  study,  58  percent  of  naturalized 
Israelis  were  of  Ashkenazic  origin,  while  37  percent  were  Sephardic/Orien- 
tal, and  2  percent  were  mixed." 

While  Israelis  of  diverse  ethnic  origins  associate  with  each  other  in  the 
United  States,  several  studies  suggest  that  patterns  of  social  interaction, 
religious  participation,  economic  cooperation,  and  adjustment  to  the  States 
often  take  place  within  ethnic  boundaries."  (See  "Subgroup  Relations," 

Education  and  Mobility 

Israelis  in  the  United  States  are  a  relatively  well-educated  group.  Accord- 
ing to  the  1990  census,  56  percent  of  men  and  52  percent  of  women  in  New 
York  and  56  percent  of  men  and  62  percent  of  women  in  Los  Angeles  have 
at  least  some  college,  while  fewer  than  20  percent  in  either  city  are  not 
high-school  graduates.  Moreover,  Israeli  women  are  as  educated  as  Israeli 
men.  The  Israelis  in  the  N.Y.  Study  have  a  higher  educational  attainment 
profile  than  those  in  the  New  York  census  file:  71  percent  of  Israeli  men 
in  the  N.Y.  Study  had  one  or  more  years  of  college  vs.  56  percent  in  the 
census  data.  Among  Israeli  women,  the  disparity  between  the  survey  and 
the  census  data  is  smaller,  but  in  the  same  direction:  65  percent  of  the  Israeli 
women  in  the  N.Y.  Study  had  completed  one  or  more  years  of  college  as 
compared  with  52  percent  of  Israeli  women  in  the  census  file.  The  differ- 
ences in  educational  attainment  between  the  N.Y.  Study  and  census  data 
may  reflect  the  studies'  different  sampling  frames.  The  study  includes  only 
Jews  and  only  Israeli-born  Israelis,  groups  that  are  likely  to  have  higher 
levels  of  education  than  the  census  sample,  which  includes  Israelis  bom 
outside  of  the  Jewish  state  as  well  as  non-Jews.  (See  table  4.) 

Israeli  immigrants  frequently  report  that  they  came  to  the  United  States 
in  order  to  increase  their  education.  This  seems  to  be  borne  out  by  the  data. 

"Ritterband,  "Israelis  in  New  York." 
"'Rosenthal,  "Assimilation  of  Israeli  Immigrants." 
"Herman,  "A  Technique  for  Estimating,"  p.  95. 

"Uriely,  "Israeli  Immigrants  in  Chicago";  Gold,  "Patterns  of  Economic  Cooperation" 
Ben- Ami,  "Schlepers  and  Car  Washers,"  pp.  18-20. 





























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72      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

In  one  study  of  Israelis  in  New  York,  while  28  percent  of  those  responding 
had  a  bachelor's  degree  or  greater  before  leaving  Israel,  the  proportion 
increased  to  39  percent  in  the  United  States.  Similarly,  of  respondents' 
spouses,  the  fraction  with  a  college-level  education  increased  from  28  per- 
cent in  Israel  to  45  percent  in  the  United  States." 

Occupational  and  Economic  Status 

In  both  New  York  and  Los  Angeles,  almost  half  of  Israeli  men  are 
employed  as  managers,  administrators,  professionals,  or  technical  special- 
ists. Another  quarter  in  either  city  are  employed  in  sales.  Other  important 
occupational  categories  are  gender-based:  craft  work  (frequently  in  con- 
struction) for  men  and  clerical  occupations  for  women.  On  both  coasts,  the 
most  common  occupational  category  for  Israeli  women  is  professional/ 
technical.  In  both  New  York  and  Los  Angeles,  female  Israelis  are  profes- 
sionally employed  at  nearly  double  the  figure  of  their  male  counterparts:  41 
percent  of  Israeli  women  are  professionally  employed  in  New  York,  33 
percent  in  Los  Angeles.  This  reflects  the  large  fraction  of  Israeli  women  who 
find  employment  in  Jewish  communal  occupations,  such  as  teaching  in  day 
schools  and  synagogues.  (See  table  5.)  Recent  studies  have  shown  that  7 
percent  of  all  Hebrew  school  teachers  in  Atlanta,  Baltimore,  and  Mil- 
waukee and  25  percent  in  Los  Angeles  were  born  in  Israel." 

While  the  image  of  the  Israeli  taxi  driver  in  New  York  was  a  popular 
stereotype  in  the  1980s,  census  data  reveal  that  this  is  no  longer  a  major 
calling  among  the  community  (if  in  fact  it  ever  was).  According  to  the  1990 
census,  only  4  percent  of  Israeli  men  in  New  York  and  2  percent  in  Los 
Angeles  are  employed  in  the  field  of  transport.  By  the  mid-1990s,  taxi 
companies,  for  example,  that  were  owned  by  Israelis,  tended  to  employ  an 
ethnically  diverse  labor  force. 

The  occupational  profile  of  Israelis  in  New  York  diflFers  somewhat  in  the 
census  data  and  the  N.Y.  Study.  The  latter  shows  many  more  Israeli  males 
concentrated  in  the  professional/technical  categories  than  the  former  (44 
percent  vs.  21  percent)  and  many  fewer  in  sales  (8  percent  vs.  29  percent). 
The  N.Y.  Study  also  shows  more  women  in  professional  and  technical 
occupations  than  does  the  census  (63  percent  vs.  41  percent)  and  fewer  in 
sales  (8  percent  vs.  16  percent)  and  clerical  (8  percent  vs.  23  percent).  The 
rest  of  the  distributions  are  nearly  identical.  (See  table  5.)  The  diflFerences 

"Rosenthal,  "Assimilation  of  Israeli  Immigrants,"  p.  67. 

"Council  for  Initiatives  in  Jewish  Education,  "Policy  Brief:  Background  and  Professional 
Training  of  Teachers  in  Jewish  Schools,"  n.d..  Box  1;  Bruce  Phillips  and  Isa  Aron,  "Teachers 
in  Jewish  Schools  in  Los  Angeles,"  unpublished  report,  Hebrew  Union  College,  Los  Angeles, 





























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74     /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

in  occupational  distribution  between  the  N.Y.  Study  and  census  data  may 
reflect  the  studies'  different  sampling  frames,  as  discussed  above,  with  the 
less  educated  more  likely  to  be  employed  in  clerical  and  sales  occupations. 
Further,  since  teaching  Hebrew  is  a  common  professional  occupation  for 
Israeli  women  in  the  United  States,  we  might  surmise  that  non-native 
speakers  of  Hebrew  (and  non-Jews)  are  less  likely  to  be  working  in  this  field, 

The  occupational  profile  of  Israeli  males  in  New  York  is  very  similar  to 
that  of  other  foreign-bom  Jewish  males  as  well  as  of  American-bom  Jewish 
men  with  two  minor  exceptions:  Israelis  are  less  likely  than  native-bom 
males  to  be  employed  in  sales  and  more  likely  to  be  employed  in  skilled 

Research  suggests  that  Israeli  immigrants  are  extremely  entrepreneurial. 
The  1990  census  found  that  around  a  third  of  Israeli  men  in  both  New  York 
(3 1  percent)  and  Los  Angeles  (36  percent)  were  self-employed.  Nationally, 
Israelis  have  the  second-highest  rate  for  self-employment  of  all  the  national- 
ity groups  in  the  1990  census.  Only  that  of  Koreans  was  higher.  The  rates  of 
Israeli  self-employment  in  the  N.Y.  Study  are  consistent  with  those  tabulated 
in  the  1990  census  for  New  York  City:  36  percent  for  males  and  20  percent 
for  females  in  the  former;  3 1  percent  and  14  percent  in  the  latter.  (See  table 
6.)  Further,  Israeli  males  and  females  are  more  likely  to  be  self-employed 
than  other  foreign-born  and  native-born  Jewish  New  Yorkers. 

Other  surveys  have  estimated  the  Israeli  rate  of  self-employment  to  be 
even  higher.  A  researcher  in  Los  Angeles  found  that  77  percent  of  Israeli 
men  and  37  percent  of  Israeli  women  in  Los  Angeles  were  self-employed; 
a  New  York  study  found  that  63  percent  of  Israeli  men  and  23  percent  of 
Israeli  women  in  New  York  were  self-employed;  and  an  analysis  of  1980 
census  data  for  California  showed  Israelis  with  the  highest  rate  of  entre- 
preneurship  of  any  nationality  in  the  United  States."  Given  that  immigrants 
generally  have  higher  rates  of  self-employment  than  the  native-bom,  and 
that  Jews  —  foreign-born  and  native-born  alike  —  are  also  characterized  by 
high  rates  of  self-employment,  this  is  not  surprising." 

"Michal  Shachal-Staier,  "Israelis  in  Los  Angeles:  Interrelations  and  Relations  with  the 
American  Jewish  Community,"  MBA  thesis,  U.  of  Judaism,  Los  Angeles,  1993;  Josef  Kora- 
zim,  "Israeli  Families  in  New  York  City:  Utilization  of  Social  Services,  Unmet  Needs,  and 
Policy  Implications,"  Ph.D.  diss.,  Columbia  U.,  1983;  Eran  Razin,  "Social  Networks,  Local 
Opportunities  and  Entrepreneurship  Among  Immigrants:  The  Israeli  Experience  in  an  Inter- 
national Perspective"  (Hebrew  U.  of  Jerusalem,  Dept.  of  Geography,  1991),  mimeo. 

"John  Sibley  Butler  and  Cedric  Herring,  "Ethnicity  and  Entrepreneurship  in  America: 
Toward  an  Explanation  of  Racial  and  Ethnic  Group  Variations  in  Self-Employment,"  Socio- 
logical Perspectives  34,  no.  1, 1991,  pp.  79  -  94;  Frank  A.  Fratoe,  "Abstracts  of  the  Sociological 
Literature  on  Minority  Business  Ownership  (with  additional  references)"  (Research  Division, 
Office  of  Advocacy,  Research  and  Information,  Minority  Business  Development  Agency,  U.S. 
Dept.  of  Commerce,  1984);  Ivan  Light,  "Disadvantaged  Minorities  in  Self-Employment," 
International  Journal  of  Comparative  Sociology  20,  nos.  1-2,  1979,  pp.  31-45. 
































Z  2 

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Z  2 

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r~  r~  so 




00   so    so 


n  3 

On    On 












76      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

High  rates  of  self-employment  are  maintained  by  extensive  economic 
cooperation  involving  co-ethnic  hiring,  subcontracting,  and  ethnic  eco- 
nomic specialization.  In  Los  Angeles,  Israelis  are  especially  active  in  con- 
struction, jewelry  and  diamonds,  retail  sales,  security,  garments,  engineer- 
ing, and  media."  One  illustration  of  Israelis'  entrepreneurial  orientation  can 
be  found  in  the  "Jewish/Israeli  Yellow  Pages  of  Los  Angeles."  Originally 
started  as  an  offshoot  of  the  Hebrew  weekly  Hadshot  LA ,  the  bilingual 
(Hebrew  and  English)  directory  grew  to  over  300  pages,  advertising  some 
1,500  Israeli-owned  businesses.  The  publisher  estimated  that  there  were 
closer  to  3,500  Israeli-owned  businesses  in  Los  Angeles  in  1995." 


Israelis  in  New  York  and  Los  Angeles  have  generally  high  rates  of 
employment  and  low  rates  of  welfare  use.  Men  have  very  high  rates  of 
labor-force  participation,  but  a  large  fraction  of  Israeli  women  are  not  in 
the  labor  force."  (See  table  7.)  One  survey  of  naturalized  Israelis  in  New 
York  found  that  "only  4  percent  of  the  women  indicated  'housewife'  as  their 
occupation  in  Israel,  while  36  percent  did  so  in  the  United  States.'""  An- 
other study  found  that  while  30  percent  of  Israeli  migrant  women  had  not 
been  in  the  labor  force  in  Israel,  56  percent  were  not  in  the  labor  force  in 
New  York." 

Further,  many  Israeli  women  who  work  do  so  only  part  time.  Israelis  are 
different  in  this  regard  from  many  other  immigrant  women,  who  maintain 
high  labor-force  participation  rates."  While  this  trend  may  be  an  indicator 
of  the  migrants'  improved  economic  status,  it  also  undoubtedly  reflects  the 
decision  of  Israeli  women  to  stay  out  of  the  labor  market  in  order  to 
compensate  on  the  domestic  and  communal  fronts  for  the  support  networks 
and  services  they  enjoyed  in  Israel  but  find  lacking  in  the  United  States.  (See 
below,  "Gender  and  Family  Adaptation.") 

"Bozorgmehr  et  al.,  "Middle  Easterners:  A  New  Kind  of  Immigrant";  Gold,  "Patterns  of 
Economic  Cooperation." 

"Personal  communication,  Jan.  1996.  This  figure  accords  with  1990  census  data,  which 
show  some  14,000  Israelis  living  in  Los  Angeles,  about  29  percent  (4,000)  of  them  self- 

"This  despite  the  fact  that  —  as  of  1984  —  the  United  States  had  a  higher  female  labor-force 
participation  rate  (44  percent)  than  Israel's  (38  percent). 

™Mira  Rosenthal  and  Charles  Auerbach,  "Cultural  and  Social  Assimilation  of  Israeli  Immi- 
grants in  the  United  States,"  International  Migration  Review  99,  no.  26,  1992,  p.  985. 

"Korazim,  "Israeli  Families  in  New  York  City,"  p.  79. 

"Silvia  Pedraza,  "Women  and  Migration:  The  Social  Consequences  of  Gender,"  Annual 
Review  of  Sociology  17,  1991,  pp.  303  -  25;  Andrea  Tyree  and  Katherine  Donato,  "A  Demo- 
graphic Overview  of  the  International  Migration  of  Women,"  in  International  Migration:  The 
Female  Experience,  ed.  Rita  James  Simon  and  Caroline  B.  Brettell  (Totowa,  N.J.,  1986),  pp 








































o^  JP^  i*  '-< 


I  I 

00  "^   <*^  »-< 
00   ^— ^ 

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00    ^— ^ 


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c    (u   o    g 
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78      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

The  earnings  of  Israelis  in  New  York  and  Los  Angeles  are  considerable, 
exceeding  the  average  for  the  foreign -born  and  approaching  those  of  native 
whites.  Employed  Israeli  men  residing  in  New  York  City  were  making 
approximately  $35,000  annually  in  1990,  while  their  counterparts  in  Los 
Angeles  were  making  almost  $49,000.  For  purposes  of  comparison,  the 
average  income  for  all  employed  foreign-bom  men  was  about  $26,000  in 
New  York  and  $24,000  in  Los  Angeles  in  1990,  while  employed,  native- 
born  white  men  in  New  York  and  Los  Angeles  earned  approximately 

Employed  Israeli  women  made  about  $25,000  in  New  York  and  approxi- 
mately $22,200  in  Los  Angeles.  For  purposes  of  comparison,  the  average 
income  for  employed,  foreign -born  women  in  New  York  in  1990  was 
$19,000  and  $16,400  in  Los  Angeles;  employed,  native-bom  white  women 
eamed  about  $31,000  in  New  York  and  $26,000  in  Los  Angeles." 

While  the  average  income  of  former  Israelis  suggests  a  generally  success- 
ful merger  into  the  American  middle  class,  it  should  be  noted  that  the 
economic  circumstances  of  this  population  cover  a  wide  range,  from  pov- 
erty to  significant  wealth.  In  1990,  according  to  the  census,  between  1  and 
2  percent  of  Israelis  in  New  York  and  Los  Angeles  were  on  welfare.  Also, 
when  length  of  residence  is  taken  into  account,  incomes  tend  to  rise.  In  Los 
Angeles,  Israeli  men  who  had  been  in  the  country  for  ten  years  averaged 
almost  $72,000  a  year.  (Figures  are  for  persons  aged  24-65.) 

Residential  Distribution  in  New  York 

Israelis  tend  to  live  in  older,  established  Jewish  neighborhoods.  In  the 
New  York  area,  Israelis  are  concentrated  in  Brooklyn  and  Queens." 

Different  kinds  of  Israeli  households  live  in  different  parts  of  New  York. 
Israeli  singles,  even  more  than  native-born  Jewish  singles,  are  attracted  to 
Manhattan  (50  percent  versus  40  percent).  Married  couples  in  which  one 
or  both  partners  are  Israeli  gravitate  toward  Brooklyn  (39  percent)  and 
Queens  (20  percent),  as  do  married  couples  in  which  one  or  both  partners 
is  foreign-bom  (but  not  Israeli)  (39  percent  to  Brooklyn,  18  percent  to 
Queens).  Jewish  couples  in  which  both  partners  are  American-bom,  by 
contrast,  are  most  likely  to  live  in  the  suburbs  (40  percent),  particularly 
Nassau,  Suffolk,  and  Westchester  counties. 

Israelis  in  Brooklyn  and  Queens  tend  to  have  the  lowest  socioeconomic 
status,  and  in  this  regard  they  are  like  other  Jews  in  these  boroughs.  Israeli 

"PUMS  for  New  York  City  and  Los  Angeles  County,  1990  Census. 
"The  1991  New  York  Jewish  Population  Study. 

ISRAELIS     IN    THE    UNITED    STATES      /      79 

males  in  Brooklyn  and  Queens,  like  other  foreign-bom  as  well  as  native- 
bom  Jewish  males,  are  the  least  likely  to  be  employed  in  management, 
administrative,  professional,  or  technical  occupations,  compared  to  Jews 
living  in  all  areas  of  New  York  City.  The  more  affluent  areas  of  Manhattan 
and  Riverdale  (in  the  Bronx)  are  the  most  likely  to  have  Jews  in  higher- 
status  occupations.  This  is  also  true  of  the  suburbs,  though  Israelis  in 
affluent  areas  may  be  self-employed  rather  than  professionals. 

A  similar  pattern  is  observed  for  females.  Employed  Jewish  females  in 
Brooklyn  and  Queens  are  the  least  likely  to  work  in  high-status  occupations, 
regardless  of  their  place  of  birth.  Israeli  women  in  the  suburbs,  however, 
have  a  decidedly  higher  occupational  profile  than  suburban  Israeli  men. 
This  is  probably  due  to  the  fact  that  Israeli  women  often  find  jobs  as 
teachers  or  other  kinds  of  Jewish  communal  professionals. 

Another  difference  between  suburban  and  urban  Israelis  in  New  York  has 
to  do  with  religious  observance.  Israeli  families  in  Brooklyn  and  Queens  are 
the  most  likely  to  have  moved  there  to  be  near  a  Jewish  day  school  or 
yeshivah  or  a  synagogue  that  appeals  to  them.  Israelis  in  Brooklyn  and 
Queens  are  more  likely  than  suburban  Israelis  to  engage  in  Jewish  rituals, 
including  attending  synagogue  one  or  more  times  per  week,  using  separate 
dishes  for  milk  and  meat,  fasting  on  Yom  Kippur,  refraining  from  using 
money  on  Shabbat,  and  observing  the  Fast  of  Esther.  Suburban  Israelis,  on 
the  other  hand,  are  more  likely  to  have  attended  a  Yom  Ha'atzma'ut  (Israel 
Independence  Day)  celebration. 


Israelis  make  exceptionally  good  progress  at  learning  English.  One  analy- 
sis of  1990  census  data  for  Los  Angeles  found  that  only  5  percent  of  Israelis 
do  not  feel  confident  in  their  English  ability.  In  interviews  with  over  100 
Los  Angeles  Israelis  representing  all  walks  of  life,  Steve  Gold  encountered 
only  one  —  a  recently  arrived  Persian-born  Israeli  who  worked  in  the  heav- 
ily Iranian  garment  district  —  who  could  not  speak  fluent  English.  About 
80  percent  of  Israelis  in  Los  Angeles  report  speaking  Hebrew  at  home,  a 
figure  that  reduces  to  60  percent  for  the  generation  of  Israelis  who  came  to 
the  United  States  as  young  children  and  spent  many  years  here." 

In  general,  Israelis  speak  Hebrew  at  home,  but  the  percentage  who  report 
speaking  Hebrew  at  home  declines  with  length  of  time  in  the  United  States. 
Israelis  in  New  York  are  far  more  likely  than  Israelis  in  Los  Angeles  to 
report  Yiddish  as  one  of  the  languages  spoken  at  home.  (See  table  8.) 

"Bozorgmehr  et  al.,  "Middle  Easterners,"  pp.  3 1  -  32. 

80      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH     YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

YORK  (percentages) 

Language  Los  Angeles  New  York 

Hebrew  75.0  67.0 

English  11.0  15.0 

Yiddish  0.7  13.0 

Armenian  4.3  — 

Arabic  2.3  — 

Persian  1.2  — 

French  1.1  1,3 

Spanish  —  1.2 

Sources:  1990  Census,  PUMS.  ~ 


Social  Adaptation 

Much  of  the  literature  on  Israeli  immigrants  cited  in  this  study  asserts 
that,  despite  their  economic  well-being,  many  members  of  the  group  accept 
the  negative  yored  stereotype,  suffering  from  feelings  of  shame,  guilt,  and 
alienation,  making  frequent  mention  of  their  plans  to  return  home,  and 
refusing  to  call  themselves  Americans.  The  ambivalence  experienced  by 
many  Israelis  is  reflected  in  interview  comments  such  as  these  by  a  man 
living  in  a  mostly  Israeli  apartment  complex  in  the  San  Fernando  Valley: 

An  Israeli  is  torn  apart  the  minute  he  is  leaving  Israel  [to  come  to  the  U.S.  for 
an  extended  period].  It's  not  like  people  from  other  countries  who  come  here  and 
settle  down,  hoping  for  better  life.  An  Israeli  is  torn  apart  the  minute  he  leaves 
Israel  and  that's  when  he  begins  to  wonder  where  is  it  better  —  here  or  there. 

We  Israelis  come  here  and  organize  our  lives  as  if  we  are  going  to  stay  for  a  short 
period  and  our  life  here  is  a  make-believe.  The  reality  is  that  we  live  here  and  at 
the  same  time  we  don't  live  here.  That  leaves  the  question  for  which  I  don't  have 
an  answer  —  what  will  happen  and  where  are  we? 

According  to  one  view,  the  kind  of  ambivalence  just  expressed  blocks  the 
formation  of  a  viable  Israeli  ethnic  community,  making  Israelis  in  this 
regard  "out  of  tune  with  the  mainstream  of  ethnic  behavior  in  America." 
They  remain  marginal  both  to  Israel  and  the  American  Jewish  community 
because  of  their  "problem  concerning  the  legitimacy  of  their  emigration, 
their  self-definition  and  self-esteem."'' 

"Moshe  Shokeid,  "One  Night  Stand  Ethnicity:  The  Malaise  of  Israeli-Americans,"  Israel 
Social  Science  Journal  8,  no.  2,  1993,  pp.  23-50;  idem,  Children  of  Circumstances. 

ISRAELIS    IN    THE    UNITED    STATES      /      81 

Without  denying  that  many  Israelis  feel  ambivalent  about  being  in  the 
United  States,  our  research  suggests  that  feelings  of  nostalgia  and  homesick- 
ness can  function  as  an  incentive  for  co-ethnic  cooperation  rather  than  only 
as  a  source  of  shame  that  discourages  the  maintenance  of  ethnic  ties. 

In  New  York,  Los  Angeles,  and  other  locales  the  desire  of  Israelis  to 
interact  with  each  other  and  to  maintain  their  ties  to  Israel  is  expressed  in 
various  ways:  Israelis  socialize  with  each  other,  live  near  co-nationals, 
consume  Hebrew-language  media  (originating  in  both  the  United  States  and 
Israel),  patronize  Israeli  restaurants  and  nightclubs,  attend  formal  social 
events  and  celebrations,  observe  Israel  Independence  Day  together;  they 
work  in  jobs  with  other  Israelis,  consume  goods  and  services  provided  by 
Israeli  professionals  and  entrepreneurs,  keep  funds  in  Israeli  banks,  send 
children  to  Israeli-oriented  religious,  language,  recreational,  and  cultural/ 
national  activities;  they  raise  money  for  Israeli  causes  (e.g.,  the  Macabees/ 
L.A.  Kings  fund-raising  basketball  game),  call  Israel  on  the  phone,  host 
Israeli  visitors,  and  make  frequent  trips  to  Israel. 

They  patronize  Israeli-style  day-care  centers.  In  Los  Angeles  there  are 
two  types  —  one  run  as  a  social  service  by  formally  organized  groups,  such 
as  the  Gan-Chabad  Israeli  Center;  the  other,  home-based  day-care  busi- 
nesses organized  by  Israeli  women.  The  1992  -  1993  Los  Angeles  Israeli 
Yellow  Pages  lists  ten  such  centers,  among  them  Ariella's  Day  Care,  Dorit's 
Day  Care,  Hila  Day  Care,  and  Kids'  Gym. 

And  they  belong  to  a  variety  of  associations.  In  addition  to  synagogues, 
these  include  clubs  of  various  sorts  and  Hebrew-speaking  chapters  of  Amer- 
ican or  international  organizations  such  as  ORT,  B'nai  B'rith,  and  WIZO 
(the  latter  reportedly  brought  to  Los  Angeles  by  Israelis)."  The  1993  -  1994 
Jewish  Yellow  Pages  of  Los  Angeles  devotes  six  pages  to  30  such  organiza- 
tions. While  some  of  these  groups,  such  as  ADL  or  the  Simon  Wiesenthal 
Center,  are  clearly  not  limited  to  the  immigrant  community,  a  number  are 
exclusively  oriented  toward  immigrants. 

Among  these  are  the  Israeli  Flying  Clubs  (there  are  two),  the  Israeli 
Musicians'  Organization,  the  Israeli  Organization  in  Los  Angeles  (ILA), 
the  Israeli- Yemenite  minyan  at  Temple  B'nai  David  Judea,  the  Summit 
political  club,  YELI  (an  organization  of  Israeli  mental  health  professionals 
who  assist  co-nationals),  several  sports  organizations,  and  Israeli  folk-dance 
groups.  These,  as  well  as  various  informal  networks  of  business  people,  were 
created  by  immigrants  themselves.  Youth  activities  like  Hetz  Vakeshet 
(summer  in  Israel  program)  and  Tzofim  (Israeli  scouts)  are  sponsored  by 
the  Israeli  government.  Still  other  activities  —  the  Jewish  Community  Cen- 
ter's Israeli  program,  the  AMI  (Israeli  Hebrew)  school,  the  B'nai  B'rith 
Shalom  Lodge,  the  Jewish  Federation's  Israeli  Division,  the  Chabad  Israeli 

"Shachal-Staier,  "Israelis  in  Los  Angeles:  Interrelations  and  Relations";  Gold,  "Israelis  In 
Los  Angeles." 

82      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

Program,  and  WIZO  Shaked  —  are  linked  with  American  or  international 
Jewish  organizations.  Regardless  of  their  affiliations,  these  groups  reflect 
Israelis'  desire  to  interact  with  each  other  and  enjoy  being  in  a  setting  where 
they  can  exchange  information,  share  social  and  economic  support,  and 
develop  common  perspectives  on  life  in  the  United  States. 

A  case  can  be  made  that  the  sizeable  Israeli  population  in  Los  Angeles, 
along  with  the  many  institutions  that  serve  it,  constitutes  what  Canadian 
sociologist  Raymond  Breton  calls  an  "institutionally  complete"  commu- 
nity.'* Within  this  collectivity,  an  Israeli  immigrant  or  visitor  can  satisfy 
nearly  all  of  his/her  needs  in  Hebrew. 

While  Los  Angeles  may  well  have  the  most  organizationally  active  Israeli 
community  in  the  United  States,  other  communities  reveal  a  similar  if  less 
intensive  communal  pattern."  Chicago,  Miami,  San  Francisco,  and  New 
York  all  have  Tzofim  and  Tzabar  programs  (the  latter  involves  "education 
in  Jewish  tradition  without  an  emphasis  on  religion")  and  a  variety  of  Israeli 
associations  and  clubs.  With  the  exception  of  Miami,  each  city  also  has  an 
Israeli-oriented  Hebrew  school  program.  Further,  these  cities,  along  with 
Detroit,  have  all  made  efforts  to  include  Israelis  within  the  local  Jewish 
Federation  and  other  communal  activities.'" 

Israelis  clearly  possess  a  desire  to  associate  with  and  help  one  another. 
They  become  each  other's  families  —  celebrating  holidays  together,  for 
example  —  and  helping  each  other  get  established.  But  the  examples  cited 
above  demonstrate  a  stronger  communal  orientation  than  was  believed  to 
exist,  contrasting  with  the  image  of  the  conflicted  j^orerf  who  is  too  ashamed 
to  make  contact  with  his  or  her  co-nationals. 


While  Israelis  in  the  United  States  cooperate  among  themselves  and  with 
other  Jewish  groups,  various  subgroups  of  the  Israeli  immigrant  population 
(based  upon  common  background,  outlook,  and  the  like)  have  developed 
more  extensive  forms  of  cooperation  than  exist  in  the  Israeli  community  as 
a  whole."  For  example,  in  Los  Angeles,  groups  based  on  ethnicity  —  such 
as  Persians  and  Yemenis  —  organize  many  of  their  own  social  events  and 
religious  activities  and  occupy  economic  niches  that  they  share  with  others 
of  a  common  background.  This  is  how  one  Israeli  of  Persian  (Iranian)  origin 

"Raymond  Breton,  "Institutional  Completeness  of  Ethnic  Communities  and  the  Personal 
Relations  of  Immigrants,"  American  Journal  of  Sociology  84,  1964,  pp.  293  -  318. 

"Mittelberg  and  Waters,  "The  Process  of  Ethnogenesis  Among  Haitian  and  Israeli  Immi- 

'"Rosen,  The  Israeli  Corner,  p.  14. 

"Uriely,  "Rhetorical  Ethnicity  of  Permanent  Sojourners";  Shokeid,  Children  of  Circum- 
stances; Gold,  "Patterns  of  Economic  Cooperation." 

ISRAELIS    IN    THE    UNITED    STATES      /      83 

describes  the  high  level  of  economic  cooperation  that  exists  among  members 
of  his  group: 

For  us  it  is  very  easy  to  find  out  a  job  only  on  the  downtown.  Before  I  went 
downtown,  I  tried  to  look  at  the  ads  in  the  American  newspapers,  like  the  Times. 
My  son  was  looking  with  me.  But  I  couldn't  get  into  the  business.  But  the  minute 
I  went  to  downtown  L.A.,  there  are  a  lot  of  Israelis  and  Persian  guys,  we  contract 
between  each  other  and  start  business. 

While  Yemeni-  or  Persian-origin  Israelis  tend  to  know  their  co-ethnics, 
their  social  networks  and  community  knowledge  do  not  extend  to  promi- 
nent Ashkenazi  Israelis.  Another  strong  network  is  made  up  of  former 
kibbutz  members  who  cooperate  in  economic  and  social  activities."  For 
example,  Avi,  a  former  kibbutz  member  who  now  runs  a  large  construction 
company,  describes  his  motives  for  hiring  other  Israelis: 

I  think  that  it  hurts  me  and  it  takes  away  from  my  power  to  see  another  Israeli 
without  work  and  without  any  way  to  make  his  living  and  that's  why  we  are 
helping  them.  My  company  now  has  at  least  35  to  40  "children"  and  "grandchil- 
dren" in  various  aspects  of  the  business.  I  had  many  foremen  who  decided  to  go 
on  their  own  and  they  even  got  a  job  from  me  as  a  subcontractor. 

Long-established  Israelis  have  their  own  social  circle,  which  revolves 
around  a  Hebrew-speaking  lodge  of  B'nai  B'rith;  and  the  more  recently 
arrived  are  involved  with  WIZO  and  a  federation-affiliated  business  associa- 

Finally,  the  boundaries  between  subgroups  also  reflect  some  of  the  ethnic 
prejudices  carried  over  from  life  in  Israel.  For  example,  a  Hungarian-born 
graduate  student  confides  that  he  did  not  want  to  attend  a  Yom 
Ha'atzma'ut  (Israel  Independence  Day)  celebration  because  "too  many 
Chach  Chachim"  (a  Hebrew  slang  term  for  a  flashy,  working-class  person, 
often  of  Oriental  ethnicity)  would  be  there.  While  he  explains  that  "there 
are  white  Chach  Chachim,"  most  are  Oriental  or  Sephardic.  For  their  part, 
Moroccan,  Yemeni,  and  Persian-origin  Israelis  in  Los  Angeles,  New  York, 
and  Chicago,  who  made  a  relatively  easy  transition  to  Orthodox  and  Has- 
sidic  synagogue  life  in  the  United  States,  often  criticize  the  antireligious 
outlook  of  secular  Ashkenazi  Israelis.'*  A  Chicago  study  found  that  Sephar- 
dic Israelis  had  higher  rates  of  synagogue  membership,  attendance  at  High 
Holy  Day  services,  and  keeping  a  kosher  home  than  did  Ashkenazim." 

"Gold,  "Patterns  of  Economic  Cooperation";  Naama  Sabar,  "The  Wayward  Children  of  the 
Kibbutz  —  A  Sad  Awakening,"  Proceedings  of  Qualitative  Research  in  Education  (College  of 
Education,  U.  of  Georgia,  1989);  Ben-Ami,  "Schlepers  and  Car  Washers." 

"Steven  Gold,  "Israeli  Immigrants  in  the  U.S.:  The  Question  of  Community,"  Qualitative 
Sociology  17,  no.  4,  1994,  pp.  325-63. 

"Uriely,  "Patterns  of  Identification";  Shokeid,  Children  of  Circumstances;  Gold,  "Israelis 
in  Los  Angeles." 

"Uriely,  "Patterns  of  Identification,"  p.  37. 

84      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

Similarly,  Middle  Eastern-origin  Israelis  are  active  participants  in  Chabad 
activities  in  New  York.*'  In  fact,  judging  by  the  number  of  photographs  of 
the  late  Lubavitcher  Rebbe  displayed  in  Israeli  businesses  and  other  immi- 
grant settings,  Chabad  has  made  strong  connections  with  Israelis  in  Los 
Angeles  as  well. 

Gender  and  Family  Adaptation 

In  nearly  every  study  of  Israelis  in  the  United  States,  including  our  own 
field  interviews,  one  finds  that  while  migration  was  a  "family  decision,"  and 
the  family  as  a  whole  enjoys  economic  benefits  as  a  result  of  migration,  the 
decision  to  migrate  was  made  by  the  men  seeking  the  expanded  educational 
and  occupational  opportunities  available  in  the  United  States."  In  the 
words  of  Rachel: 

For  most  of  the  people  that  came  here,  the  men  came  and  the  women  came  after 
them.  Like  when  I  came,  my  husband  came  for  a  job.  I  had  to  leave  my  job  and 
I  had  to  find  a  new  job  and  it  was  very  painful.  I  think  more  and  more  now  there 
are  women  coming  on  their  own,  but  if  you  look  at  most  cases,  it  is  the  men 
coming  after  jobs  and  it  means  that  the  women  are  the  ones  that  have  to  take  care 
of  finding  apartment,  finding  schools  for  kids  and  they  get  depressed,  very  badly 

A  study  of  Israeli  immigrant  women  in  suburban  New  York  found  that 
all  22  of  "the  women  who  left  Israel  with  their  Israeli  spouses,  except  one, 
put  the  onus  of  the  decision  on  'his'  education,  'his'  career  or  business  plans. 
As  a  group  of  immigrant  women  they  can  in  fact  be  seen  as  adjuncts  to  their 
spouses'  immigration."*' 

Once  in  this  country,  men  often  enjoy  the  benefits  of  their  expanded 
opportunities  and  accordingly  feel  more  comfortable  with  the  new  environ- 
ment. One  study  of  former  kibbutzniks  found  that  women,  especially  those 
with  children  and  established  careers,  have  more  negative  views  of  the  new 
society,  are  less  satisfied  with  America,  and  retain  a  stronger  sense  of  Israeli 
and  Jewish  identity  than  men,  who  increasingly  see  themselves  as  Ameri- 
can. Even  when  these  Israeli  women  work  in  the  United  States,  they  have 
less  of  a  professional  identity  than  men  and  would  prefer  to  return  home." 

These  findings  appear  to  apply  to  a  large  segment  of  the  Israeli  popula- 
tion. Once  in  the  United  States,  through  their  immersion  in  education  and 
work,  men  develop  a  social  network  and  a  positive  sense  of  self  Women, 

"Shokeid,  Children  of  Circumstances . 

"Kimhi,  "Perceived  Change  of  Self-Concept";  Lipner,  "The  Subjective  Experience";  Rosen- 
thal, "Assimilation  of  Israeli  Immigrants";  Rosenthal  and  Auerbach,  "Cultural  and  Social 
Assimilation  of  Israeli  Immigrants." 

"Lipner,  "The  Subjective  Experience  of  Israeli  Immigrant  Women,"  p.  142. 

"Kimhi,  "Perceived  Change  of  Self-Concept,"  p.  95. 

ISRAELIS    IN    THE    UNITED    STATES      /      85 

however,  because  they  are  responsible  for  child  rearing  and  many  of  the 
family's  domestic  and  social  activities,  are  the  family  members  who  most 
directly  confront  alien  American  social  norms  and  cultural  practices  —  but 
without  the  knowledge  or  the  family,  friendship,  and  neighborhood  re- 
sources to  which  they  had  access  at  home.  Thus,  Israeli  immigrant  women 
find  their  domestic  and  communal  tasks  —  such  as  building  social  net- 
works, finding  appropriate  schools  and  recreational  activities,  dealing  with 
teachers  and  doctors,  obtaining  day  care,  and  the  like  —  to  be  quite  difficult. 

According  to  one  researcher,  an  Israeli  woman's  family  status  and  prior 
work  involvement  have  much  to  do  with  her  feelings  about  being  in  the 
United  States.  Younger  women  who  had  few  social  attachments  prior  to 
migration  (i.e.,  no  children  or  established  careers)  looked  forward  to  mi- 
grating and  enjoyed  being  in  America.  However,  women  who  had  children 
and  who  were  forced  to  give  up  good  positions  in  Israel  to  come  to  the 
United  States  had  a  much  harder  time,  experiencing  their  exit  as  "devastat- 

The  presence  of  young  or  school-age  children  in  Israeli  immigrant  fami- 
lies often  heightens  their  ambivalence  about  being  in  the  United  States.  The 
New  York  women  in  Lipner's  study  experience  the  environment  in  which 
their  children  are  growing  up  as  entirely  antithetical  to  the  Israeli  one  in 
which  they  were  socialized.  Essentially,  they  see  the  dominant  values  of  the 
adult  world,  competition  and  individualism,  replicated  in  the  children's 
reality,  and  they  are  critical  of  it." 

In  reflecting  on  their  experience,  many  Israelis  contrast  this  country's 
positive  economic  and  occupational  environment  to  its  communal  and  cul- 
tural liabilities:  immigrants  almost  universally  regard  Israel  as  a  better  place 
for  children.  It  is  safer,  they  maintain,  has  fewer  social  problems,  and  does 
not  impose  the  generational  conflicts  IsraeHs  confront  when  raising  children 
in  the  United  States.  Further,  in  Israel,  Jews  are  the  culturally  and  reli- 
giously dominant  group.  The  institutions  of  the  larger  society  teach  children 
Hebrew  and  Jewish  history  and  help  them  to  shape  their  basic  national, 
ethnic,  and  religious  identity.  (More  on  this  below.) 

Role  reversals  sometimes  occur  between  parents  and  children,  with  the 
younger  generation  gaining  in  power  at  the  expense  of  the  older.  This  is 
because  children  generally  become  Americanized  and  learn  English  much 
faster  than  their  parents.  One  woman  reported  that  her  teen-age  son  would 
react  to  her  advice  by  saying,  "What  do  you  know  about  it?  You're  from 

Another  source  of  conflict  occurs  when  family  members  disagree  over 
their  country  of  residence.  These  problems  are  most  dramatic  when  one 

'"Lipner,  "The  Subjective  Experience  of  Israeli  Immigrant  Women,"  pp.  144  -  145. 
"Ibid.,  p.  232. 

86      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

spouse  is  American-born  or  has  many  American  relatives,  while  the  other's 
family  resides  in  Israel.  Similarly,  children  who  have  spent  much  of  their 
lives  in  the  United  States  often  prefer  to  remain,  while  their  parents  may 
wish  to  return  to  Israel.  Conversely,  parents  may  wish  to  remain  in  the 
United  States  for  career  opportunities,  while  children  may  wish  to  return 
to  Israel.  Such  is  the  case  for  Dan,  an  active  member  of  the  San  Fernando 
Valley  Tzofim  chapter: 

On  Yom  Kippur,  we  went  to  the  synagogue  and  it  was  so  different  because  we 
prayed  and  then  we  went  home  and  people  were  driving  by  on  the  street  and 
people  were  eating  in  restaurants  and  it  was  very  hard.  It  was  very  different.  I 
felt  that  I  am  not  in  the  right  place;  I  shouldn't  be  here.  I  told  my  parents  and 
they  said  "You  are  in  the  United  States,  you  are  not  in  Israel.  You  should  expect 

Israeli  vs.  American  Jewish  Identity 

For  many  Israelis  —  particularly  those  with  children  —  the  issue  of  their 
basic  identity  as  Israelis  and  as  Jews  is  a  highly  charged  one.  The  identity 
of  many  Israelis  is  ethnic,  secular,  and  nationalistic.  While  they  appreciate 
Jewish  holidays  and  speak  Hebrew,  they  connect  these  behaviors  to  "Israeli- 
ness"  rather  than  Jewishness.  They  are  not  accustomed  to  participating  in 
organized  religious  activities  and  depend  on  the  larger  society  and  public 
institutions  to  socialize  their  children.  But  the  very  fact  of  living  in  a 
non-Jewish  society  presents  new  challenges,  as  the  following  anecdote  illus- 
trates. It  was  told  to  research  assistant  Debra  Hansen  by  Gili,  who  was 
stationed  in  Los  Angeles  by  an  Israeli  company. 

Gili's  oldest  daughter,  who  attended  a  Jewish  day  school,  was  asked  by 
her  teacher  if  she  would  marry  a  non-Jew.  She  replied  "yes,"  because  her 
parents  had  taught  her  not  to  judge  people  by  their  background  but  only 
by  their  character.  When  informed  of  this  reply  by  their  child's  teacher,  Gili 
and  his  wife  were  shocked.  They  had  imparted  their  principle  in  the  context 
of  Israel,  so  that  she  would  not  judge  people  according  to  their  Ashkenazi 
or  Oriental/Sephardic  origins,  but  they  never  intended  her  to  apply  it  in  a 
non-Jewish  environment. 

While  Israeli  parents  may  seek  to  impart  a  Jewish/Israeli  identity  to 
children  whom  they  see  assimilating  quickly  to  the  non-Jewish  folkways  of 
American  life,  they  find  no  easy  way  to  do  so.  The  "synagogue-based, 
ethno-religious  identity  of  Diaspora  U.S.  Jews""  is  foreign  to  them  (particu- 
larly those  identified  with  the  Ashkenazi  elite),  and  they  are  unfamiliar  with 
the  uniquely  American  forms  of  Judaism,  specifically,  the  Reform  and 

"Mittelberg  and  Waters,  "The  Process  of  Ethnogenesis  Among  Haitian  and  Israeli  Immi- 
grants," p.  416. 

ISRAELIS     IN    THE    UNITED    STATES      /      87 

Conservative  movements,  with  which  the  great  majority  of  American  Jews 
affiliate,  because  those  movements  have  only  a  small  presence  in  Israel." 
The  dilemma  of  many  Israeli  parents  is  described  by  Batia,  a  psychologist 
and  mother  of  two  teenagers: 

Israelis  are  bom  secular  citizens.  Most  of  us  are  raised  secular,  non-religious.  And 
that's  the  point.  Because  if  we're  not  rehgious,  we  are  not  identifying  ourselves 
with  the  Jewish  community  here.  Therefore,  we  are  not  Jews,  we're  Israelis. 

So,  Israehs  send  their  kids  to  public  school  and  they  have  this  little  American 
running  around  at  home  that  is  not  Jewish.  And  remember,  the  Israelis  also  are 
not  Jewish,  so  where  do  we  meet  in  the  family?  On  what  value  system  do  we  meet? 
There  is  no  value  system  that  Israehs  can  give  to  their  children  as  Americans 
because  they  don't  know  it.  The  children  bring  home  the  American  culture,  their 
parents  don't  know  it.  None  of  them  meet  on  the  Jewish  arena,  which  is  the 
healthiest,  because  it  gives  you  a  value  system  and  lifestyle  and  it  does  not  exist 
in  Israeli  family  and  that's  why  the  breakdown  occurs. 

Many  Israeli  parents  feel  forced  to  choose  between  having  their  children 
socialized  in  either  (or  perhaps  both)  of  two  unfamiliar  cultural  traditions 
—  those  of  non-Jewish  Americans  and  those  of  Diaspora  Jews.  Those  Is- 
raeli parents  who  try  to  remedy  the  situation  by  enrolling  children  in 
parochial  day  schools  and  other  American  Jewish  institutions  are  con- 
fronted with  a  foreign  culture  and  identity,  one  that  is  religious  rather  than 
nationalistic.  Some  are  troubled  by  what  they  describe  as  the  excessive 
religiosity  of  day  schools.  They  object  to  the  children's  school-inculcated 
demands  for  a  kosher  kitchen,  family  synagogue  attendance,  and  strict 
Sabbath  adherence.  Committed  to  secularism,  such  parents  comment  on 
their  own  dislike  of  the  growing  power  of  religious  parties  in  Israel  and  do 
not  want  to  raise  their  children  to  become  supporters  of  Orthodoxy.  But 
they  are  torn  between  their  rejection  of  too  much  religion  in  Israel  and  the 
threat  posed  in  America  by  too  little. 

Thus,  despite  complaints  about  excessive  religiosity,  and  about  the  high 
cost  of  Jewish  day  schools  and  synagogue  membership,  some  secular  Israe- 
lis decide  that  the  only  reasonable  means  of  resolving  the  gap  in  generation 
and  culture  is  to  raise  their  children  as  religious  American  Jews.  As  a  result, 
some  Israelis  who  present  themselves  as  having  been  radically  secular  prior 
to  migration  claim  that  they  are  more  religiously  observant  in  the  United 
States  than  they  ever  had  been  in  Israel. 

It  is  important  to  point  out  that  the  desire  of  Israeli  parents  to  expose 
their  children  to  Israeli  or  Jewish  culture  is  only  partly  because  they  value 
these  traditions.  Many  also  want  their  offspring  to  understand  "where  they 
are  coming  from,"  so  that  there  can  be  some  shared  experience  that  permits 
Americanized  children  to  relate  to  their  parents  and  relatives.  Added  to 

"Ritterband,  "Israelis  in  New  York.' 

88      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

this,  parents'  fears  about  public  schools  and  the  perceived  negative  elements 
of  American  youth  culture  (drugs,  individualism,  excessive  sexuality,  low 
achievement  motivation)  also  make  Jewish  schools  look  like  desirable  alter- 

The  solution  for  many  Israeli  immigrant  families  who  wish  to  escape  the 
polarities  of  assimilation  and  Orthodoxy,'"  but  want  to  give  their  children 
some  form  of  Jewish  and/or  Israeli  training,  is  to  establish  connections  with 
Israeli  and/or  Jewish  life  through  special  family  activities  of  their  own 
creation  or  involvement  in  specially  designed  Israeli-American  programs. 

Many  Israeli  youngsters  attend  after-school  Hebrew  programs  and  vari- 
ous Israeli  clubs  that  seek  to  provide  Israeli-American  children  with  some 
notion  of  an  Israeli  identity.  Starting  in  1983,  New  York's  Board  of  Jewish 
Education,  with  UJA-Federation  funding,  developed  "a  secular  experimen- 
tal educational  program"  that  eventually  resulted  in  a  number  of  after- 
school  programs  throughout  the  city  as  well  as  an  array  of  cultural  activities 
for  all  ages:  folk-dance  groups,  parent  workshops,  summer  camps,  even 
bar/bat  mitzvah  training.  Ghana  Silberstein,  director  of  the  program,  esti- 
mates that  some  2,500  Israeli  families  have  been  involved  in  Jewish  educa- 
tional programs.  She  stresses  the  need  of  Israelis  living  outside  of  Israel  "to 
redefine  their  Jewish  identity,  making  the  necessary  transition  from  being 
part  of  a  Jewish  majority  to  part  of  a  Jewish  minority."" 

An  Israeli  staff  member  in  a  Los  Angeles  Hebrew  school  program  ex- 
plained her  goals  this  way: 

When  I  put  the  program  together,  I  was  trying  to  think  what  does  an  Israeli 
...  a  child  that  was  born  to  an  Israeli  family  that  lives  in  the  United  States 
. .  .  when  he  graduates  this  school,  what  does  he  need  in  order  to  feel  comfortable 
in  his  community?  So,  one  of  them,  of  course,  is  Hebrew  ...  to  feel  comfortable 
at  home.  They  must  know  about  the  culture  in  which  ...  we  grew.  Like  the  poems 
and  the  riddles  and  the  rhymes  and  the  stories  that  these  parents  recite  at  home. 

They  should  be  able  go  to  a  synagogue  and  feel  comfortable  with  the  Jewish 
community  so  we  have  lessons  for  the  Holy  Days  and  Shabbat.  Of  course,  they 
have  to  know  about  the  geography  of  Israel  to  know  what's  going  on  political 
wise.  They  have  to  know  the  history  and  they  should  know  about  the  dilFerent 
Jewish  heroes  from  the  Biblical  time  to  modern  history.  Who  was  Trompeldor, 
Hanna  Senesh,  all  the  way  .  .  .  back  to  Rabbi  Akiva  and  Rabbi  Hillel.  And  we 
celebrate  the  Holy  Days  the  way  we  would  in  Israel. 

Tzabar,  the  American  branch  of  Tzofim  (Israeli  Scouts)  has  groups  for 
youngsters  aged  10-  19  in  eight  states  and  a  membership  of  some  1,500. 
Each  summer,  200  Israeli- American  youth  spend  a  summer  in  Israel  as  part 

"While  they  exist  between  the  polarities  of  assimilation  and  Orthodoxy,  "middle  ground" 
approaches  to  Judaism  such  as  Reform  and  Conservative  are  very  American  and,  accordingly, 
may  have  little  more  appeal  to  recently  arrived  Israelis  than  the  extremes. 

"Rosen,  The  Israeli  Corner,  pp.  18-19. 

ISRAELIS    IN    THE    UNITED    STATES      /      89 

of  Hetz  Vakeshet,  a  program  that  combines  "elements  of  summer  camp, 
Outward  Bound,  and  army  training  all  in  one."" 

Jewish  Involvement 

Although  the  issue  of  identity  is  clearly  central  for  many  Israelis,  it 
remains  to  be  seen  how  and  to  what  extent  they  will  become  involved  in 
the  American  Jewish  community.  One  school  of  thought  suggests  a  growing 
trend  toward  assimilation  to  non- Jewish  cultural  patterns.  Largely  secular 
and  unaccustomed  to  American  Jewish  life,  Israeli  emigres'  very  departure 
from  the  Holy  Land  signifies  a  move  away  from  the  Jewish  ideal.  Even  their 
participation  in  ethnic  activities  is  limited  and  oriented  toward  secular 
pursuits  with  little  religious  content  —  meals,  parties,  dancing,  and  sports. 
Moreover,  their  poor  relations  with,  and  social  and  cultural  distance  from, 
American  Jews  suggests  little  potential  for  integration  into  the  larger  com- 

Another  school  of  thought  sees  Israelis  increasingly  participating  in 
American  Jewish  life  and  becoming  involved  in  a  variety  of  Jewish  institu- 
tions. While  survey  data  on  the  Jewish  involvement  and  behavior  of  Israelis 
are  limited  and  overrepresent  the  well-established,  existing  studies  indicate 
that  Israeli  emigres  engage  in  many  Jewish  behaviors  at  higher  rates  than 
those  of  American-bom  Jews. 

When  comparing  Israeli  immigrants'  observance  of  Jewish  customs  — 
lighting  candles  on  Shabbat  and  Hanukkah,  attending  synagogue  on  the 
High  Holy  Days  and  Shabbat,  and  fasting  on  Yom  Kippur  —  with  their 
patterns  of  practice  in  Israel,  several  studies  of  naturahzed  IsraeHs  in  New 
York  and  Los  Angeles  found  that  these  practices  increased  in  this  country. 
A  study  of  Israelis  in  Los  Angeles  that  did  not  draw  from  a  sample  of  those 
with  U.S.  citizenship  noted  a  slight  reduction  in  these  religious  practices. 
Overall,  based  on  the  1990  National  Jewish  Population  Survey  (NJPS),  it 
appears  that  Israelis  are  more  likely  than  American  Jews  to  observe  the 
above-mentioned  Jewish  practices,  both  in  Israel  and  in  the  United  States. 
(See  table  9.) 

In  Los  Angeles,  80  percent  of  Israeli  parents  provide  their  children  with 
some  form  of  Jewish  education;  50  percent  of  Israeli  youth  in  Los  Angeles 
attend  day  schools."  In  one  New  York  study,  over  30  percent  of  Israeli 
children  in  Brooklyn  and  Queens  attend  day  schools.  This  latter  rate  is  quite 
high,  considering  that  Israeli  residents  of  Brooklyn  and  Queens  are  among 

"Rosen,  The  Israeli  Corner,  p.  10. 
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ISRAELIS    IN    THE    UNITED    STATES      /      91 

the  least  affluent  Jewish  New  Yorkers,  and  that  many  come  from  secular 

Communal  Response 

Until  the  1980s,  much  of  the  organized  American  Jewish  community  and 
the  Israeh  government  either  ignored  or  actively  condemned  the  Israeli 
population  in  the  United  States.  One  top  Israeh  government  official  referred 
to  the  emigres  as  zevel  (garbage)  and  urged  consulates  worldwide  to  have 
"little  if  anything  to  do  with  them."  In  order  to  discourage  further  emigra- 
tion and  to  foster  re-immigration,  from  the  early  1970s  until  the  mid-1980s, 
the  Israeli  consulate  in  New  York  "repeatedly  urged  the  federation  to 
provide  no  special  services  to  Israelis."""' 

In  the  late  1980s,  however,  this  relationship  began  to  change.  Subtly  and 
without  grandstanding,  the  Israeli  government  encouraged  its  consular 
officials  to  initiate  the  development  of  relations  between  Israeli  immigrants 
and  American  Jewish  institutions.  Yossi  Kucik  of  the  Jewish  Agency  re- 
ported that  he  attended  a  1985  meeting  wherein  "it  was  agreed  that  the 
State  could  no  longer  afford  to  ignore  these  citizens  abroad."  A  consular 
official  asserted,  "It  is  preferable  to  see  these  Israelis  participating  in  Ameri- 
can Jewish  life  rather  than  for  them  to  be  isolated  Jewishly."  Early  in  1990, 
Los  Angeles  consul-general  Ron  Ronen  approached  the  Jewish  Federation 
(which  had  been  offering  some  outreach  activities  since  1984)  to  develop  a 
new  and  more  inclusive  policy  toward  Israeli  emigres."" 

In  1992  the  Israeli  government  announced  that  "because  of  the  impor- 
tance it  attaches  to  the  re-emigration  of  Israelis  to  Israel,"  it  was  taking 
responsibility  for  "rt-aliyah"  from  the  Jewish  Agency  and  estabhshing  an 
Office  for  Returning  Israelis  in  the  Ministry  of  Absorption.  It  offered 
emigres  a  package  of  benefits  including  cash  assistance,  low-cost  air  fair, 
suspension  of  import  duties,  education,  assistance  in  finding  jobs  and  hous- 
ing, financial  aid  for  schooling,  and  reduction  in  military  duty  for  Israelis 
and  their  families  who  return.'"^ 

Following  Israel's  lead,  American  Jewry  took  steps  to  acknowledge  both 
the  existence  of  an  Israeli  immigrant  community  and  the  importance  of 

"Rosenthal,  "Assimilation  of  Israeli  Immigrants."  On  the  other  hand,  given  the  poor 
reputation  of  urban  public  schools  and  the  many  Jewish  day  schools  located  in  these  neighbor- 
hoods, Israelis  living  in  Brooklyn  and  Queens  may  have  both  the  motive  and  the  opportunity 
to  provide  their  children  with  a  religious  education. 

'"Steven  M.  Cohen,  "Israeli  Emigres  and  the  New  York  Federation:  A  Case  Study  in 
Ambivalent  Policymaking  for  'Jewish  Communal  Deviants,'  "  Contemporary  Jewry  7,  1986, 
p.  159. 

'"'Rosen,  The  Israeli  Corner,  p.  3. 

'""Going  Home." 

92      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH     YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

outreach.  Since  that  time,  major  American  Jewish  communities  —  New 
York,  Los  Angeles,  Chicago,  Miami,  and  the  San  Francisco  Bay  Area  — 
have  supported  a  series  of  programs  to  aid  and  incorporate  Israelis.  These 
include  social  activities,  secular  Israeli-style  education,  and  Israeli  divisions 
of  federations.'"  However,  because  of  the  ongoing  controversy  surrounding 
the  presence  of  Israelis  in  the  United  States,  these  services  are  sometimes 
provided  with  little  official  acknowledgment,  even  though  federation  dollars 
support  them.'"* 


Significant  differences  between  Jewish  Israelis  and  Jewish  Americans  are 
normally  obscured  because  of  the  limited  and  selective  nature  of  contact 
between  these  two  groups.  Despite  their  common  religion  and  often  shared 
ancestral  origins  in  Eastern  Europe,  Israelis  and  American  Jews  speak 
different  languages,  maintain  different  cultural  norms  and  practices,  eat 
different  kinds  of  food,  have  contrasting  political  outlooks,  and  like  different 
kinds  of  sports,  music,  and  entertainment.  Further,  although  both  support 
Israel,  they  have  differing  national  allegiances.  Finally,  the  two  groups  often 
express  their  common  religious  identification  in  disparate  ways."" 

Existing  literature  and  our  own  research  indicate  that  as  individuals, 
Israelis  and  American  Jews  often  get  along  well  in  social,  workplace,  and 
organizational  settings,  but  on  the  group  level  some  friction  exists.  For 
example,  Israelis  and  American  Jews  create  good  friendships  and  happy 
marriages,  hire  each  other,  and  work  together.  Major  Jewish  organizations 
have  Israeli  employees  and  members,  and  Israeli  students  attend  institu- 
tions of  Jewish  learning. 

American  Jews  admire  Israelis'  chutzpah,  idealism,  and  military  prow- 
ess. However,  they  often  consider  them  to  be  boorish,  arrogant,  and  overly 
aggressive.  In  Rosenthal's  study  of  naturalized  Israelis  in  Brooklyn  and 
Queens,  47  percent  had  been  invited  to  American  Jews'  homes  fewer  than 
three  times,  and,  while  1 8  percent  of  Israeli- Americans  reported  their  two 
closest  friends  to  be  American  Jews,  78  percent  said  their  best  friends  were 
fellow  Israelis.  Given  that  these  Israelis  had  become  U.S.  citizens,  and 
therefore  had  lived  in  the  United  States  at  least  three  to  five  years  and  knew 
English,  this  would  appear  to  be  a  low  rate  of  interaction."" 

'"'Shokeid,  Children  of  Circumstances;  Gold,  "Israelis  In  Los  Angeles";  Uriely,  "Rhetorical 

'"'Rosen,  The  Israeli  Corner. 

""Avi  Kay,  Making  Themselves  Heard:  The  Impact  of  North  American  Olim  on  Israeli 
Protest  Politics  (American  Jewish  Committee,  New  York,  1995). 

""Rosenthal,  "Assimilation  of  Israeh  Immigrants,"  pp.  113-  14. 

ISRAELIS    IN    THE    UNITED    STATES      /      93 

Just  as  American  Jews  have  mixed  feelings  about  Israelis,  Israelis  are 
ambivalent  about  their  American  cousins,  whom  they  sometimes  portray  as 
affluent  but  soft  Diaspora  Jews  who  exist  as  a  minority  in  a  bland  and 
potentially  hostile  Christian  country.""  In  Israeli  eyes,  "Diaspora  Jews  are 
plagued  by  a  'galut'  (exilic)  mentality  that  precludes  them  from  freely 
expressing  themselves  as  proud,  self-confident  and  self-respecting  Jews."'"* 

An  IsraeH  perspective  on  American  Hfe  is  summarized  in  the  following 
quote  from  Yoram,  an  engineer  employed  in  Detroit's  auto  industry.  Yoram 
and  his  family  speak  fluent  English,  have  an  impressive  suburban  home, 
belong  to  a  temple,  and  are  active  in  the  federation.  Further,  his  children 
are  popular  campus  leaders  in  the  high  school  and  university  they  attend. 
Nevertheless,  Yoram  expresses  distance  from  his  adopted  country. 

I  would  say  that  I  feel  more  like  an  outsider.  I've  never  been  discriminated 
against,  at  least  that  I  have  felt  it.  I  was  sometimes  treated  like  an  oddity,  you 
know,  "You  come  from  the  Middle  East  where  they  are  still  riding  camels."  But 
basically,  we  lack  the  understanding  and  the  feeling  of  being  an  American.  An 
apple  pie  is  just  a  cake;  Halloween  is  an  American  version  of  Purim  and  Thanks- 
giving is  a  little  bit  like  Succot.  Thank  God  there  is  Hanukkah. 

I  don't  have  a  problem  with  feeling  like  a  minority  because  I  have  my  roots.  I 
think  American  Jews  have  it  in  a  much  more  difficult  way.  They  might  feel  as 
a  minority  —  to  cry  for  more  opportunities  or  to  say  that  they  have  been  dis- 
criminated against.  But  I  always  have  the  option.  I  mean,  I  can  always  get  up  and 
go  and  whenever  I  go,  I  go  home. 

And  I'm  not  the  only  one.  I  think  what  you'll  find  very  interesting  is  that  Israelis, 
the  majority  of  them  always  maintain  their  house  in  Israel.  They  never  sell  their 
house  in  Israel. 

American  Jews'  view  of  Israeli  immigrants  is  often  conflicted.  On  the  one 
hand,  at  least  until  recently,  many  American  Jews  felt  that  Israelis  should 
return  home  to  support  the  cause  of  Zionism.""  At  the  same  time,  when 
confronted  with  Israelis'  ambivalence  about  being  in  the  United  States  — 
expressed  in  refusal  to  call  themselves  Americans,  praise  their  new  country, 
accept  American  social  codes,  and  participate  in  American-style  Jewish 
communal  life  —  American  Jews  resent  the  newcomers'  lack  of  patriotism 
and  reluctance  to  assimilate.  One  federation  leader  in  a  Midwestern  city 

'"'Lipner,  "The  Subjective  Experience  of  Israeli  Immigrant  Women";  Sobel,  Migrants  from 
the  Promised  Land. 

'"Steven  M.  Cohen,  "Israel  in  the  Jewish  Identity  of  American  Jews:  A  Study  in  Dualities 
and  Contrasts,"  in  Jewish  Identity  in  America,  ed.  David  M.  Gordis  and  Yoav  Ben-Horin 
(Wilstein  Institute  of  Jewish  Policy  Studies,  Los  Angeles),  p.  122. 

'"Cohen,  "Israeli  Emigres  and  the  New  York  Federation";  Sobel,  Migrants  from  the  Prom- 
ised Land. 

94      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

We  have  several  thousand  Israelis  and  there's  minimal  involvement.  It's  very, 
very  frustrating.  They  get  involved  in  those  things  that  the  community  does  for 
them  that  are  Israel  focused  —  like  Israel  Independence  Day  or  if  we  bring  an 
Israeli  singer.  But  we've  really  outreached  and  we  haven't  been  very  successful. 

Israelis  are  often  sensitive  to  the  negative  views  held  by  the  American 
Jewish  community.  Some  feel  rejected,  even  bitter,  complaining  that  they 
are  viewed  as  stereotypes,  not  as  individuals.  On  the  level  of  personal 
interaction,  some  Israelis  describe  being  initially  impressed  by  American 
Jews'  politeness.  However,  they  also  feel  that  Americans  are  fundamentally 
less  friendly  and  sincere  than  Israelis.""  Israelis  see  themselves  as  being 
open  to  spontaneous  sociability.  To  them,  Americans  appear  distant  and 
reserved,  people  who  socialize  only  formally  and  infrequently.  However,  as 
Israelis  live  in  the  United  States  longer,  they  often  find  themselves  taking 
on  similar  social  patterns,  at  least  partly  because  of  demanding  work 
schedules.  Nevertheless,  the  open  sociability  of  Israelis  seems  to  be  a  deeply 
rooted  norm. 

Interestingly,  Israelis  see  both  Americans  and  themselves  as  materialistic, 
but  in  different  ways.  Young  Israelis  may  view  affluent  American  Jews  as 
snobbish  and  more  concerned  with  possessions  than  with  human  relation- 
ships. This  is  the  opinion  of  a  second-generation  Israeli-American  in  Chi- 

There  is  something  that  I  don't  like  in  American  Jews.  They  are  so  .  .  .  "JAP" 
[Jewish  American  Princess].  They  have  money  and  that  is  very  important  for 
them.  They  are  spoiled  kids  who  think  about  themselves  most  of  the  time.'" 

Poorer  American  Jews,  while  considered  by  Israelis  as  more  "down  to 
earth,"  are  seen  as  being  "not  very  Jewish,"  perhaps  because  their  lack  of 
income  deprived  them  of  a  Jewish  education.  At  the  same  time,  Israelis  see 
their  own  peers  as  nouveaux  riches  —  constantly  trying  to  impress  each 
other  with  shows  of  extravagant  consumerism.  Taking  a  psychoanalytic 
tack,  some  respondents  in  our  studies  attribute  this  behavior  to  Israelis' 
need  to  compensate  for  the  status  loss  and  insecurity  associated  with  life  in 
the  "Golah"  (outside  of  Israel). 

As  these  examples  suggest,  Israelis  feel  significant  social  distance  from 
American  Jews  in  language,  values,  sociability,  and  life-shaping  experi- 
ences. One  of  the  most  revealing  differences  between  Americans  and  Israelis 
involves  the  observance  of  Yom  Hazikaron,  the  Israeli  Memorial  Day, 
which  occurs  the  day  before  Israel  Independence  Day.  Although  religiously 
identified  American  Jews  typically  know  all  about  Jewish  holidays  and  have 
visited  Israel,  they  have  little  awareness  of  or  feeling  about  Yom  Hazikaron, 

""Lipner,  "The  Subjective  Experience  of  Israeli  Immigrant  Women." 
'"Uriely,  "Patterns  of  Identification,"  p.  41. 

ISRAELIS    IN    THE     UNITED    STATES      /      95 

which  to  Israelis  is  one  of  the  most  solemn  and  moving  occasions  of  the 
year,  when  they  remember  the  Israelis  whose  lives  were  sacrificed  in  combat 
—  many  of  them  friends  and  relatives  —  during  their  nation's  short  history. 
Accordingly,  it  is  at  the  time  of  Yom  Hazikaron  that  many  Israelis  feel  most 
distanced  from  American  Jews  and  closest  to  each  other. 

Recognizing  these  differences  with  American  Jews,  nearly  all  Israelis 
hope  nevertheless  for  improved  relations.  In  the  words  of  David,  an  Israeli 
community  activist: 

The  Israelis  here  have  to  come  into  the  Jewish  community.  I  don't  Hke  the  fact 
that  some  of  them  want  to  be  independent.  I'm  not  against  them  organizing,  but 
we  should  become  a  part  of  the  mainstream  of  Jewish-American  life  because  we 
are  not  separate. 

Take  for  example  my  own  family.  I  don't  see  that  somebody's  grandmother  left 
the  same  village  in  Poland  that  my  grandmother  lived  in  80  years  ago  and  came 
to  New  York,  and  my  relatives  came  to  Israel,  that  I'm  that  different  from  that 
person.  So,  since  we  are  the  same  people,  we  should  not  have  a  separate  Israeli 
Federation.  For  two  reasons.  The  main  reason  to  me  is  that  most  Israelis  will  not 
admit  that  most  of  them  will  stay  here  forever.  Most  of  them  will  end  up  living 
here,  and  90  percent  of  their  children  will  end  up  living  here. 

I  mean,  all  Israelis  somewhere  harbor  the  hope  that  they  will  go  back  to  Israel. 
But  the  truth  is  that  all  of  them  are  here  temporarily,  and  then  they  die.  And  that's 
the  reality.  I've  been  here  1 8  years,  I  would  like  to  go  back,  I  don't  know  if  I  will. 
You  have  your  businesses,  people  have  families,  you  know,  they  cannot  just  pick 
up  and  leave.  And  they  have  gotten  used  to  the  way  of  Hfe  here  and  that's  their 

So  these  two  communities  need  each  other.  And  I'm  not  saying  the  Israelis  should 
assimilate  into  the  Jewish  community  and  become  Americans  because  they  won't. 
Their  children  probably  will,  but  they  won't.  And  they  can  keep  their  uniqueness, 
but  in  total  cooperation.  I  think  that  instead  of  having  their  divisive  or  divided 
Jewish  community,  we  need  to  have  one  strong  united  community,  because  here, 
you're  bringing  new  Israeli,  precious  Israeli  blood  into  the  Jewish  Federation.  The 
Federation  will  get  stronger  and  I'm  going  to  tell  you  that  some  of  the  nicest 
people  I  know  work  in  the  Federation  and  it  will  do  a  hell  of  a  lot  of  good  for 
Israelis  to  meet  these  people  and  become  one  community.  Not  show  the  resent- 
ment of  Americans  to  Israelis  and  IsraeHs  see  themselves  as  outsiders.  I  mean  it 
will  take  time.  This  is  not  a  process  that  will  happen  overnight,  but  it  will  happen. 

Reconsidering  Israeli  Immigrants'  "Unique  Status" 

While  various  studies  have  made  much  of  Israelis'  mixed  feelings  about 
being  in  the  United  States,  even  a  cursory  review  of  the  literature  demon- 
strates that  the  ambivalence  of  immigrants  is  far  from  unusual.  The  "so- 
journer" (temporary)  perspective  of  Israeli  migrants  resembles  that  of  many 
American  immigrants,  ranging  from  19th-century  Italians  and  Chinese  to 

96      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

today's  Caribbeans  and  Latin  Americans."^  Indeed,  the  image  of  the  patri- 
otic "new  American,"  Stars  and  Stripes  in  hand,  is  far  from  the  norm,  even 
if  it  is  a  dominant  cultural  myth. 

A  perceptive  scholar  noted  recently  that  the  popular  notion  that  immi- 
grants came  to  the  United  States  ready  to  assimilate  "is  a  myth.  The  specter 
of  'Americanization'  troubled  more  immigrants  than  historians  have  been 
willing  to  admit."'"  Accordingly,  if  Israelis  maintain  a  desire  to  return 
home,  this  outlook  is  neither  unusual  nor — judging  from  the  experience 
of  other  migrant  groups  —  does  it  preclude  the  possibility  of  their  creating 
viable  ethnic  communities  in  the  United  States. 


Transnationalism,  a  new  approach  in  the  field  of  migration  studies,  en- 
ables us  to  understand  better  international  migrant  communities,  which, 
like  Israeli-Americans,  maintain  social,  cultural,  and  economic  links  to 
other  countries  on  a  more  or  less  permanent  basis.""  From  the  perspective 
of  transnationalism,  migration  is  a  multilevel  process  rather  than  a  discrete 
event  consisting  of  a  permanent  move  from  one  nation  to  another.  This 
theory  suggests  that  by  retaining  social,  cultural,  and  economic  links  with 
multiple  settings,  people  can  avoid  the  impediments  traditionally  associated 
with  long  distances  and  international  borders  and  remain  intensely  involved 
in  the  life  of  their  country  of  origin,  even  though  they  no  longer  reside  there. 

A  number  of  factors  make  the  movement  of  Israelis  from  the  Jewish  state 
to  the  United  States  relatively  easy  and  suggest  that  Israelis  might  be 
considered  a  transnational  people.  They  are  well  educated,  often  possessing 
occupational  and  cultural  skills  that  are  useful  in  both  countries.  They 
generally  have  access  to  networks  in  both  countries  that  can  provide  a  broad 
variety  of  services  ranging  from  pretravel  information  to  job  opportunities, 
child  care,  housing,  and  social  life.  While  some  Israelis  in  the  United  States 
lack  legal-resident  status,  as  a  group  they  are  likely  to  become  naturalized 
and  are  among  a  select  few  allowed  to  have  dual  citizenship.'"  Even  prior 
to  migration,  Israelis  are  apt  to  be  familiar  with  American  society  from  their 

'"Leonard  Dinnerstein,  Roger  L.  Nichols,  and  David  M.  Reimers,  Natives  and  Strangers: 
Blacks,  Indians  and  Immigrants  in  America,  2nd  ed.  (New  York,  1990);  Alejandro  Portes  and 
Ruben  Rumbaut,  Immigrant  America:  A  Portrait  (Berkeley,  1990). 

'"Dinnerstein  et  al.,  p.  139. 

'"Nina  Glick  Schiller,  Linda  Basch,  and  Cristina  Blanc-Szanton,  "Transnationalism:  A 
New  Analytic  Framework  for  Understanding  Migration,"  in  Towards  a  Transnational  Perspec- 
tive on  Migration:  Race,  Class,  Ethnicity  and  Nationalism  Reconsidered,  ed.  Schiller,  Basch, 
and  Blanc-Szanton  (New  York,  1992),  pp.  1  -  24. 

'"Guillermina  Jasso  and  Mark  R.  Rosenzweig,  The  New  Chosen  People:  Immigrants  in  the 
United  States  (Russell  Sage  Foundation,  New  York,  1990). 

ISRAELIS    IN    THE    UNITED    STATES      /      97 

exposure  to  popular  culture,  American  visitors,  and  intergovernmental  rela- 
tions. As  Sobel  put  it,  "America,  it  might  be  posited,  has  become  the  alter 
ego  of  Israel  in  political,  economic,  and  cultural  terms.'"" 

A  large  proportion  of  the  Israeli  population  has  resided  in  the  Jewish 
state  for  fewer  than  two  or  at  most  three  generations.  Accordingly,  their 
family  lore  and  cultural  background  are  rich  in  stories  of  life  in  other 
settings  as  well  as  techniques  for  coping  with  the  challenges  that  displace- 
ment presents.  Many  emigres  we  interviewed  had  lived  in  other  countries 
—  as  wide-ranging  as  Japan  and  Hong  Kong,  Switzerland,  England,  Italy, 
South  Africa,  and  Latin  America  —  prior  to  their  settlement  in  the  United 
States.  This  group  included  not  only  professionals  and  high-level  entrepre- 
neurs but  also  less  skilled  and  educated  migrants  such  as  carpenters  and 
restaurant  workers.  Hence,  many  Israelis  possess  a  cultural  orientation  and 
life  experience  compatible  with  an  existence  beyond  the  borders  of  the 
Jewish  state. 

Finally,  while  the  hterature  asserts  that  transnational  groups  are  often 
lacking  a  vocabulary  to  describe  their  experience  —  "Individuals,  commu- 
nities, or  states  rarely  identify  themselves  as  transnational"  —  Jews  are  in 
fact  accustomed  to  seeing  themselves  in  this  way.'"  "Extranational"  iden- 
tity is  expressed  when  non-Israelis  proclaim  themselves  to  be  Zionists,  when 
Jews  say  "next  year  in  Jerusalem"  during  the  Passover  Seder,  when  they 
refer  to  "world  Jewry,"  or  when  Jewish  famihes  who  had  lived  in  Poland 
for  generations  refuse  to  identify  themselves  as  Polish. 

Further  facilitating  Israeli-American  transnationalism  are  the  good  polit- 
ical relations  and  extensive  links  between  the  United  States  and  Israel.  The 
U.S.  government  and  American  Jewish  agencies  have  developed  an  active 
presence  in  the  Jewish  state.  American  firms  have  branches  there,  and 
American  companies  sometimes  hire  professional  and  skilled  workers  di- 
rectly from  Israel.  At  the  same  time,  Israeli  government  agencies,  banks, 
and  industrial  enterprises  have  offices  in  New  York,  Los  Angeles,  and  other 
American  settings.  These  not  only  inject  an  Israeli  flavor  into  the  American 
environment  but  also  provide  employment  for  migrants."*  At  the  same 
time,  we  noted  a  variety  of  Israeli-oriented  activities  that  allow  migrants  to 
maintain  a  semblance  of  Israeli  life  in  the  United  States. 

Travel  between  the  two  countries  is  easily  arranged.  Israeli  immigrants 
often  report  making  frequent  trips  from  the  United  States  to  Israel,  and  it 
is  not  uncommon  for  children  to  return  to  Israel  to  spend  summer  vacations 
with  relatives.  A  Los  Angeles  obstetrician  describes  the  great  value  he 
places  on  his  trips  back  to  Israel: 

'"Sobel,  Migrants  from  the  Promised  Land. 

'"Schiller,  Basch,  and  Blanc-Szanton,  "Transnationalism,"  p.  8. 

'"Sobel,  Migrants  from  the  Promised  Land,  p.  196. 

98      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

I  was  talking  to  my  accountant  two  days  ago  —  he  is  also  an  Israeli  —  he  says 
"What  is  going  on?"  And  I  said  "What  can  I  tell  you,  we  are  in  a  concentration 
camp."  Okay  —  this  is  the  way  you  describe  it,  and  it  is  so  true.  We  are  in  a 
concentration  camp  and  we  get  a  relief  once  a  year  when  we  go  to  Israel  for  a 
vacation.  This  is  the  bottom  line. 

Sociologist  Zvi  Sobel,  in  his  1981  -  1982  pretravel  survey  of  117  Israeli 
emigrants  (most  of  whom  planned  to  enter  the  United  States),  found  evi- 
dence of  a  transnational  outlook.  About  half  denied  "that  leaving  Israel  and 
moving  to  the  U.S.  was  an  act  of  emigration."  Instead,  they  defined  the 
travel  as  "temporary"  or  "commuting."  Moreover,  "almost  all  interviewees 
denied  that  their  leaving  meant  a  cessation  of  contributing  to  the  develop- 
ment of  Israel.  .  .  Almost  all  saw  their  departure  as  ...  to  Israel's  good.""" 

In  all  of  the  ways  cited,  the  context,  history,  and  culture  of  Israel  have 
prepared  its  citizens  for  transnationalism.  For  some  individuals,  at  least,  the 
distinction  between  being  an  Israeli  or  being  an  American  may  not  be  nearly 
as  clear-cut  as  the  literature  on  international  migration  generally  suggests. 
Instead,  such  factors  as  flexible  notions  of  ethnic  and  national  identity, 
access  to  and  participation  in  social  and  occupational  networks,  and  the 
ability  of  people  to  sustain  cultural  competence  and  legal  status  in  more 
than  a  single  society  allow  these  individuals  to  maintain  meaningful  forms 
of  involvement  in  multiple  national  settings  at  one  time. 

While  transnationalism  is  a  reality  for  many  Israelis,  this  does  not  mean 
that  it  is  an  easy  way  of  life.  Even  as  these  migrants  build  communities  and 
networks  that  help  them  cope  with  the  social  and  cultural  dimensions  of  ties 
to  two  places,  and  enjoy  the  economic  benefits  of  migration,  most  are  not 
quite  comfortable  with  this  status.  In  the  words  of  a  Los  Angeles  accoun- 
tant: "Israel  is  my  mother  and  America  is  my  wife,  so  you  can  imagine  the 
way  I  must  feel." 


The  presence  of  Israeli  immigrants  in  the  United  States  provides  the 
world  Jewish  community  with  unique  challenges.  While  American  Jews 
have  achieved  a  long  and  enviable  record  in  aiding  their  co-ethnics,  Israelis 
have  been  largely  excluded  from  this  tradition.  This  is  linked  to  American 
Jews'  support  for  Israel  as  the  national  home  of  the  Jewish  people  —  a 
country  that  fellow  Jews  should  go  to  but  never  think  of  leaving.  The 
emigres  themselves,  who  seldom  conceive  of  themselves  as  permanent  im- 
migrants, have  also  discouraged  being  incorporated  into  the  American 
Jewish  community.  During  the  late  1970s,  hostile  statements  and  inflated 

"Ibid.,  p.  209. 

ISRAELIS    IN    THE    UNITED    STATES      /      99 

population  estimates  reflected  the  low  esteem  with  which  Israelis  in  the 
United  States  were  regarded  by  both  the  Israeli  authorities  and  the  Ameri- 
can Jewish  establishment. 

Differences  in  religious,  national,  and  cultural  identity,  language,  and 
other  factors  also  separate  American  Jews  and  Israelis.  However,  following 
the  recent  change  in  Israeli  government  policy  toward  its  expatriates,  the 
American  Jewish  community  has  become  more  open  to  these  migrants.  As 
a  result,  several  informal  and  formal  programs  to  both  support  and  include 
these  migrants  have  been  established. 

This  new  perspective  has  also  permitted  the  American  Jewish  community 
to  notice  that,  in  contrast  to  statements  depicting  Israeli  emigres  as  a 
marginal  and  ahenated  noncommunity,  Israelis  have  already  become  in- 
volved in  American  Jewish  life  —  living  in  Jewish  neighborhoods,  working 
in  traditionally  Jewish  occupations,  supporting  communal  institutions,  and 
serving  as  teachers  and  communal  functionaries. 

An  important  contribution  made  by  Israelis,  along  with  other  Jewish 
immigrants,  is  the  role  they  play  in  retaining  the  Jewish  character  of  older 
Jewish  neighborhoods.  Recent  arrivals  occupy  real  estate,  patronize  shops, 
purchase  existing  neighborhood  businesses,  and  create  new  ones.  They 
attend  neighborhood  synagogues  and  public  and  day  schools  and  congre- 
gate in  local  parks.  For  example,  in  Los  Angeles,  directly  across  Robertson 
Boulevard  from  the  Workmen's  Circle  building  (Workmen's  Circle  is  a 
fraternal  secular/socialist  organization  created  by  European  Jewish  immi- 
grants early  in  this  century)  is  located  the  relatively  new  Orthodox  Gan 
Chabad  Israeli  program,  staffed  by  a  Yemeni  rabbi.  In  like  manner,  Hebrew 
and  Farsi  conversations  echo  Yiddish  ones  of  decades  past  in  the  garment 
center  and  jewelry  districts.  One  can  see  Israelis  and  other  Jewish  migrants 
talking  over  news  of  American  Jewish  life,  just  as  East  Europeans  did  early 
in  this  century.  In  this  way,  they  are  maintaining  but  also  transforming  the 
institutions  of  Jewish  life,  changing  the  nature  of  the  American  Jewish 

Despite  the  sometimes  stigmatized  status  of  Israelis  and  their  own  reluc- 
tance to  consider  themselves  immigrants,  Israehs  as  a  group  have  done 
relatively  well  in  their  social  and  economic  adjustment  to  the  United  States. 
Their  community  has  many  accomplishments  to  show  in  entrepreneurship, 
the  arts,  the  professions,  and  the  academy.  Further,  they  have  created  a 
number  of  community  organizations,  some  of  which  benefit  not  only  Israelis 
but  the  larger  American  Jewish  community  as  well.  For  example,  the  Israeli 
film  festivals  in  Los  Angeles,  San  Francisco,  New  York,  and  elsewhere  are 
important  events  for  Israelis,  American  Jews,  and  film  buffs  of  all  stripes. 
This  is  but  one  example  of  Israelis  providing  a  vital  communal  service  to 
the  entirety  of  a  Jewish  community.  As  Jewish  fund-raisers  discover  that 

100     /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

Israelis  are  both  affluent  and  strongly  Jewish,  the  notion  of  an  Israeli 
division  of  the  local  Jewish  federation  no  longer  appears  to  be  an  oxymoron, 
as  it  did  only  a  decade  ago. 

Despite  their  presence  in  the  United  States,  Israeli  emigres  tend  to  main- 
tain a  strongly  positive  view  of  their  country  of  origin.  They  keep  abreast 
of  Israeli  issues,  maintain  contact  with  Israeli  friends  and  relatives,  and  visit 
frequently.  When  they  become  U.S.  citizens,  eligible  to  vote  in  U.S.  elec- 
tions, their  central  political  concern  is  supporting  Israel. 

Given  the  accomplishments  of  Israeli  immigrants  in  the  United  States 
and  the  newly  benign  attitude  with  which  they  are  regarded  by  both  Israel 
and  American  Jewry,  it  is  not  unreasonable  to  predict  a  positive  future  for 
them,  one  yielding  many  benefits  for  the  relations  between  Israel  and  Amer- 
ican Jews  —  in  contrast  to  the  negative  feelings  surrounding  their  presence 
in  the  recent  past. 

Finally,  as  we  evaluate  the  place  of  Israeli  immigrants  in  American 
society,  it  might  be  worthwhile  to  look  for  parallels  in  the  long  history  of 
Jewish  migration  to  the  United  States.  Throughout  the  19th  century  and 
into  the  20th,  the  European  Jewish  elite  —  including  both  its  rabbinical  and 
intellectual  wings  —  condemned  America  as  a  place  unsuited  for  Jews. 
Their  reason?  American  Jews  were  not  concerned  with  religious  traditions 
but  only  with  personal  gain.  Writing  from  San  Francisco  for  a  journal 
published  in  Russia  in  the  1880s,  Hebrew  scholar  Zvi  Falk  Widawer  as- 
serted, "Jews  came  here  only  to  achieve  the  purpose  which  occupied  their 
entire  attention  in  the  land  of  their  birth.  That  purpose  was  money."  A  few 
years  later,  a  similar  report  appeared  in  an  Orthodox  journal  from  Galicia, 
railing  that  "[t]he  younger  generation  has  inherited  nothing  from  their 
parents  except  what  they  need  to  make  their  way  in  this  world;  every 
spiritual  teaching  is  foreign  to  them."'^" 

As  these  quotations  indicate,  two  of  the  major  accusations  leveled  at 
Israeli  emigrants  in  the  1970s  and  1980s  —  that  they  were  obsessed  with 
material  gain  and  that  their  children  would  lose  their  Jewish  identity  — 
were  leveled  at  European  Jews  in  the  United  States  by  the  elites  in  their 
home  countries  a  full  century  before.  During  the  same  period,  voices  were 
also  raised  in  both  Europe  and  the  United  States  against  Jewish  migration 
to  what  would  eventually  become  Israel.  In  the  1920s  and  '30s,  Elazar 
Shapira,  a  European  Hassidic  leader,  preached  that  both  America's  materi- 
alism and  Jerusalem's  secular  Zionism  were  "gates  to  hell."'^' 

'"Arthur  Hertzberg,  The  Jews  in  America:  Four  Centuries  of  an  Uneasy  Encounter:  A  History 
(New  York,  1989),  pp.  156-57. 
'^'Ibid.,  p.  158. 

ISRAELIS    IN    THE    UNITED    STATES      /      101 

These  historical  observations  highlight  the  fact  that  international  migra- 
tion has  always  presented  a  major  challenge  to  the  Jewish  status  quo,  and 
that  while  it  seldom  occurs  without  acrimonious  debate,  it  also  opens  new 
horizons  of  growth  and  potential. 






United  States 

National  Affairs 

X  HE  PERIOD  1994  AND  the  first  half  of  1995  was  a  watershed  for  many 
of  the  core  concerns  of  the  American  Jewish  community.  Not  least  of  the  portents 
of  change  was  the  upheaval  in  the  U.S.  Congress,  with  Republicans  taking  control 
of  both  houses  for  the  first  time  in  40  years.  Troubling  rumblings  continued  during 
this  period  in  the  relationship  between  the  black  and  Jewish  communities,  most 
especially — from  the  Jewish  perspective — in  the  inadequate  response  of  many  black 
leaders  to  expressions  of  anti-Semitism  by  Nation  of  Islam  spokesmen  and  others. 
Also  on  the  agenda  were  church-state  issues,  relations  with  other  religious  and 
ethnic  communities,  and  terrorist  attacks  in  Israel,  the  United  States,  and  abroad. 


Congressional  Elections 

Throughout  1994  there  were  indications  that  the  pohtical  chmate  was  unusually 
volatile.  A  growing  number  of  incumbents,  in  what  would  turn  out  to  be  near-record 
proportions,  dechned  to  seek  reelection.  One  of  the  most  notable  of  these  was  Sen. 
Howard  Metzenbaum  (D.,  Ohio),  a  longtime  champion  of  many  foreign  and  domes- 
tic issues  important  to  the  Jewish  community. 

As  the  1994  elections  approached,  polling  data  suggested  an  increase  in  the 
general  population's  disaffection  from  the  administration  and  the  Congress.  Many 
commentators  suggested  that  one  or  both  houses  of  Congress  might  be  turned  over 
to  Republican  control.  In  the  end,  the  conjectures  about  possible  changes  in  congres- 
sional leadership  were  vastly  understated.  On  November  8,  1994 — for  the  first  time 
in  40  years — the  electorate  handed  over  control  of  both  houses  of  Congress  to  the 
Republican  Party.  As  the  smoke  cleared,  and  before  taking  into  account  the  switch 
by  several  members  in  both  houses  from  the  Democratic  to  the  Republican  column 
(a  phenomenon  that  began  immediately  after  the  election  with  Alabama  senator 
Richard  Shelby's  change  of  party  on  November  9  and  continued  throughout  1995), 
Republicans  had  a  majority  of  230-204 — with  one  independent — in  the  House  of 
Representatives  and  52-48  in  the  Senate. 


106      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH     YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

The  104th  Congress  elected  in  1994  included  a  total  of  nine  Jewish  senators  and 
23  representatives,  as  compared  to  ten  senators  and  31  representatives  in  the  103rd 
Congress.  The  four  Jewish  senators  up  for  reelection — Dianne  Feinstein  (D., 
Calif),  Herbert  Kohl  (D.,  Wis.),  Frank  Lautenberg  (D.,  N.J.),  and  Joseph  Lieber- 
man  (D.,  Conn.) — all  managed  to  survive  sometimes  tough  races,  with  the  reduc- 
tion by  one  ascribable  to  Senator  Metzenbaum's  retirement.  In  the  House,  however, 
there  were  a  significant  number  of  losses:  Marjorie  Margolies-Mezvinsky  (D.,  Pa.), 
who  lost  to  Republican  Jon  Fox,  the  only  new  Jewish  member  in  the  104th  Con- 
gress, Eric  Fingerhut  (D.,  Ohio),  Dan  Hamburg  (D.,  Calif),  Herb  Klein  (D.,  N.J.), 
Lynn  Schenk  (D.,  Calif),  Dan  Glickman  (D.,  Kan.),  and  David  Levy  (R.,  N.Y.), 
who  lost  to  a  challenger  in  the  Republican  primary  and  ran  as  a  third-party  candi- 
date in  the  general  election.  Jewish  returnees  to  the  Congress  whose  races  had  been 
in  doubt  included  Nita  Lowey  (D.,  N.Y.)  and  Martin  Frost  (D.,  Tex.).  Two  Jewish 
members — Jane  Harman  (D.,  Calif)  and  Sam  Gejdenson  (D.,  Conn.) — prevailed 
with  such  slim  margins  that  their  victories  were  subjected  to  challenge  after  the 
election,  but  ultimately  their  claims  to  retain  their  seats  were  upheld  or  the  chal- 
lenges withdrawn. 

The  Republicans  elected  to  the  104th  Congress  were,  of  course,  not  monolithic. 
Nevertheless,  the  broad  policies  and  principles  of  that  group,  elaborated  in  the 
ten-point  "Contract  with  America"  on  which  many  of  them  ran,  made  it  immedi- 
ately evident  that  there  would  be  a  struggle  between  the  Clinton  administration  and 
the  Congress  as  to  the  future  of  domestic  and  foreign  policy.  For  the  Jewish  commu- 
nity, which  by  and  large  voted  Democratic  and  was  politically  active  as  part  of  a 
liberal-leaning  coalition  of  ethnic,  religious,  urban,  liberal,  and  labor  groups,  the 
election  raised  questions  about  the  future  of  its  domestic  and  foreign  agenda.  Some, 
in  particular  Jewish  Republicans,  argued  that  the  election  results  presented  another, 
even  more  fundamental  question — whether  the  time  had  come  for  the  Jewish  com- 
munity to  rethink  some  of  the  positions  and  alliances  to  which  it  had  long  been 
committed.  They  urged  that  more  Jews  begin  to  support  the  GOP  or  "be  left 


The  Republican  majority's  ascension  to  power  was  marked  in  its  first  half-year 
by  marathon  sessions,  particularly  in  the  House  of  Representatives,  as  leaders  of  that 
body  moved  to  make  good  on  their  pledge  to  hold  floor  votes  within  the  104th 
Congress's  first  100  days  on  the  items  described  in  the  "Contract  with  America." 
While  many  aspects  of  the  contract  were  not  high  on  the  Jewish  community's 
agenda,  pro  or  con,  there  were  several  items,  such  as  proposals  for  welfare  reform, 
as  to  which  that  community  had  substantial  concerns.  In  addition,  it  was  expected 
that  various  other  troubling  issues  not  part  of  the  contract  would  arise  later  in  the 
session,  among  them  school  prayer,  repeal  of  the  assault  weapons  ban  passed  by  the 
103rd  Congress,  immigration  reform,  and  foreign  aid. 

U.S.     NATIONAL     AFFAIRS      /      107 

To  be  sure,  there  were  several  areas  in  which  the  Jewish  community  had  reason 
to  hope  for  support  in  the  new  Congress,  such  as  aid  for  Israel,  antiterrorism 
legislation,  and  the  Workplace  Religious  Freedom  Act.  Further,  that  part  of  the 
Jewish  community  which  supported  vouchers  for  parochial  and  other  private  educa- 
tion had  reason  to  expect  support  from  the  104th  Congress.  Some  argued  that 
representative  Jewish  agencies  had  become  too  identified  with  a  liberal  agenda,  and, 
in  particular,  that  of  the  Democratic  Party.  At  the  February  1995  plenum  of  the 
National  Jewish  Community  Relations  Advisory  Council  (NJCRAC),  an  umbrella 
organization  encompassing  117  local  and  13  national  agencies,  a  past  chairman  of 
one  local  council  complained  that  "our  organization  is  viewed  as  the  liberal  wing 
of  the  Democratic  Party,  and  as  such  we  are  less  and  less  relevant." 

The  Religious  Right 

The  rising  political  strength  of  the  religious  right  was  tellingly  demonstrated  by 
the  results  of  the  1994  election.  Even  before  1994  it  was  widely  accepted  that  the 
role  of  the  religious  right  in  the  Republican  Party  was  a  significant  reason  why 
American  Jews,  alone  among  non-Hispanic  whites,  continued  to  vote  by  such  strong 
majorities  for  Democrats.  Nothing  about  the  campaigns  of  1994  nor  the  clear  role 
of  the  religious  right  in  its  result  alleviated  those  concerns. 

Thus,  1994  saw  Christian  "religious  right"  groups  achieve  substantial  success 
within  state  Republican  parties  in  procuring  the  nomination  of  candidates  represent- 
ing their  viewpoints,  most  notably  the  nomination  of  Oliver  North  as  the  Republican 
candidate  for  senator  from  Virginia.  The  Republican  National  Committee  estimated 
that  persons  affiliated  with  the  religious  right  constituted  as  much  as  25  percent  of 
the  party's  active  members,  even  though  they  were  not  even  12  percent  of  the  total 
party  membership. 

Jewish  concern  over  the  increased  influence  of  the  religious  right  within  the 
Republican  Party  was  not  simply  a  function  of  differences  over  particular  political 
issues.  Rather,  there  was  a  substantial  fear  that  the  religious  right's  apparent  opposi- 
tion to  the  principle  of  separation  of  church  and  state — articulated  by  some  in  the 
religious  right  as  a  belief  that  the  United  States  is  a  "Christian  nation" — constituted 
a  threat  to  religious  pluralism  in  America.  Of  course,  these  concerns  were  not  solely 
those  of  the  Jewish  community.  With  the  growing  strength  of  the  religious  right, 
the  opposition  attempted  to  better  mobilize  at  the  grassroots  level,  including  projects 
to  identify  candidates  for  school-board  seats  and  other  local  bodies  with  ties  to  the 
religious  right.  Increasingly,  these  grassroots  efforts  were  undertaken  by  local 
groups  in  coordination  with  national  groups  as  part  of  a  unified  strategy. 

Leaders  of  the  Jewish  community,  both  within  and  without  the  Republican  Party, 
sought  assurances  during  the  summer  of  1994  from  Republican  National  Committee 
chairman  Haley  Barbour  that  the  Republican  leadership  shared  their  concerns. 
Instead,  Barbour  denied  that  there  was  any  danger  of  a  "takeover"  of  the  Republi- 
can Party.  In  another  forum,  he  asserted  that  those  raising  alarms  of  an  assault  on 

108      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

the  Republican  Party  by  the  religious  right  were  themselves  engaged  in  a  "Christian- 
bashing  campaign,"  seeking  to  use  the  religious  right  as  a  wedge  issue  to  drive  voters 
away  from  the  Republican  Party. 

This  response  was  exemplified  by  the  controversy  that  arose  in  the  summer  of 
1994  after  the  Anti-Defamation  League  (ADL)  published  The  Religious  Right:  The 
Assault  on  Tolerance  and  Pluralism  in  America.  Conservative  columnists  and  reli- 
gious-right groups  accused  the  ADL  of  anti-Christian  bigotry  and  of  working  on 
behalf  of  the  Democratic  Party  to  undermine  Republican  candidates.  For  its  part, 
the  Christian  Coalition — a  political  organization  founded  by  Pat  Robertson  in  1989 
that  is  closely  identified  with  the  religious  right's  agenda — steadfastly  maintained 
that  it  was,  in  any  event,  not  a  partisan  organization,  and  that  its  members  would 
support  candidates  from  either  party  so  long  as  those  candidates'  views  were  consist- 
ent with  the  coalition's  policy  positions.  In  August  the  Christian  Coalition  cir- 
culated to  its  membership,  members  of  Congress,  and  the  media  a  29-page  docu- 
ment, "A  Campaign  of  Falsehoods:  The  Anti-Defamation  League's  Defamation  of 
Religious  Conservatives,"  refuting  the  ADL  report. 

Questions  as  to  the  implications  of  religious-right  activism  for  the  Republican 
Party  did  not  all  come  from  outside  the  GOP.  In  a  late  October  speech  before  the 
Anti-Defamation  League,  Sen.  Arlen  Specter  (R.,  Pa.),  who  is  Jewish,  warned  of 
far-right  excesses  as  exemplified  when  delegates  to  the  1994  Texas  Republican 
convention  held  up  signs  saying,  "A  vote  for  [a  named  candidate]  is  a  vote  for  God." 
He  also  took  on  Christian  Coalition  president  Pat  Robertson  when,  in  April  1995, 
he  disputed  as  "flatly  untrue"  Robertson's  claims  that  he  had  never  called  the 
United  States  a  "Christian  nation."  Nevertheless,  Specter  indicated  at  various  points 
his  difference  with  many  in  the  Jewish  community  in  his  estimate  that  what  he 
termed  the  "far-right  fringe"  constituted  no  more  than  5  percent  of  Republican 
voters.  In  addition,  he  criticized  the  ADL's  1994  report  as  "painted  with  too  broad 
a  brush  in  comments  that  could  be  construed  as  critical  of  religious  citizens'  partici- 
pation in  politics  and  public  life."  Senator  Specter's  differences  with  the  religious 
right  became  a  theme  of  the  campaign  for  president  that  he  launched  in  1995. 

Not  all  Jewish  groups  perceived  the  Jewish  community's  interests  as  antithetical 
to  those  of  the  religious  right.  Americans  for  a  Safe  Israel  pointed  to  the  religious 
right's  support  for  Israel  as  a  reason  for  American  Jews  to  adopt  a  less  confronta- 
tional attitude  toward  that  political  movement.  On  August  2,  1994,  a  group  of  75 
Jewish  conservatives,  many  of  whom  were  aligned  with  the  Christian  Coalition  on 
such  issues  as  efforts  to  limit  the  size  of  government  and  opposition  to  teaching  about 
homosexuality  in  public  schools,  signed  onto  an  advertisement  in  the  New  York 
Times  that  called  the  ADL  publication  "defamation"  and  "bigotry."  The  advertise- 
ment was  taken  out  by  Toward  Tradition,  a  group  founded  by  Rabbi  David  Lapin 
to  provide  a  forum  for  Jewish  conservatives.  Rabbi  Lapin  regularly  appeared  at 
meetings  of  the  Christian  Coalition,  and  Ralph  Reed,  the  Christian  Coalition's 
executive  director,  appeared  at  the  Toward  Tradition  conference  held  in  Washing- 
ton, D.C.  in  October  1994. 

U.S.     NATIONAL    AFFAIRS      /      109 

A  separate  but  related  issue  was  the  accusation  made  by  some  Jewish  leaders  that 
the  religious  right  was  linked  to  anti-Semitic  elements.  Thus,  the  ADL  report  cited 
writings  and  statements  of  Pat  Robertson  in  which  he  attacked  Jews  for  persecuting 
Christians  and  warned  that  they  were  endangering  Christian  support  for  Israel. 
Another  much-cited  article  by  Robertson  had  him  making  a  comparison  between 
the  "plight"  of  evangelical  Christians  in  the  United  States  and  that  of  Jews  under 
the  Nazi  regime.  In  a  June  22,  1994  letter,  Robertson  asserted  that  what  he  described 
as  "false  charges  of  anti-Semitism"  were  "an  obvious  attempt  to  discredit  the  role 
of  people  of  faith  in  the  civic  process."  ADL  national  director  Abraham  Foxman 
responded  in  a  letter  of  July  1 3  that  his  organization's  focus  was  "on  pohtical 
positions  and  statements  held  by  the  Coalition  and  other  religious  right  groups  on 
certain  issues — not  with  the  role  of  religious  people  in  the  civic  process." 

An  attempt  to  clear  the  air,  or  at  least  lower  the  level  of  rhetoric,  took  place  in 
late  November  in  the  form  of  a  Washington,  D.C.  "summit"  between  representa- 
tives from  approximately  30  mainstream  Jewish  and  rehgious  right  organizations. 
The  conference  was  sponsored  by  the  International  Fellowship  of  Christians  and 
Jews.  At  the  end  of  the  session,  Rabbi  Yechiel  Eckstein,  president  of  the  fellowship, 
said,  "We  agreed  to  disagree  without  maligning  or  impugning  the  motives  or  charac- 
ter of  others,"  and  also  agreed  to  work  on  "finding  a  middle  ground  between 
theocracy  and  a  naked  public  square."  Representatives  of  Jewish  organizations 
came  away  from  the  session  feehng,  for  the  most  part,  that  it  provided  an  opportu- 
nity for  each  side  to  Hsten  to  the  other  but  not  to  arrive  at  agreement  on  the  policy 
issues  that  divided  them.  (See  also  below,  "Evangelical  Christians.") 

In  addition,  during  the  first  half  of  1995,  Ralph  Reed,  executive  director  of  the 
Christian  Coahtion,  spoke  before  large  gatherings  of  the  Anti-Defamation  League 
and  the  American  Jewish  Committee  in  an  attempt  to  move  the  relationship  of  Jews 
and  evangelical  Christians  "beyond  the  pain  of  the  past  and  the  uneasy  tolerance 
of  the  present  towards  a  genuine  friendship  in  the  future."  Reed  asserted  that,  while 
the  coalition  supported  "voluntary,  ecumenical  and  nondenominational"  prayer  at 
school  functions,  his  organization  did  not  favor  prayer  in  classrooms  because  that 
is  a  "compulsory  setting";  he  also  renounced  the  notion  that  the  United  States  is 
a  "Christian  nation,"  stating  that  "the  separation  of  church  and  state  as  an  institu- 
tion is  inviolable."  Still,  leaders  of  the  Jewish  organizations  continued  to  express 

The  prominent  role  of  the  religious  right  in  the  Republican  Party  was  once  again 
underUned  when,  on  May  17,  1995,  the  Christian  Coalition  unveiled  its  "Contract 
with  the  American  Family"  at  a  Capitol  Hill  press  conference.  Sen.  Phil  Gramm 
(R.,  Tex.)  and  Speaker  Newt  Gingrich  (R.,  Ga.)  were  among  the  Repubhcan  leaders 
who  appeared  at  that  event  to  endorse  the  ten-point  "contract."  Modeled  on  the 
prior  year's  "Contract  with  America"  and  intended  to  press  the  Christian  Coali- 
tion's social-issues  agenda,  the  "Contract  with  the  American  Family"  called  for, 
among  other  things,  a  "religious  equality"  constitutional  amendment,  vouchers  for 
private  school  education,  a  $500  per  child  annual  tax  credit,  dismantling  of  the  U.S. 

110      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

Department  of  Education,  and  anti-abortion  measures. 

Many  Jewish  organizations  and  a  number  of  other  religious  and  civil-liberties 
groups,  together  with  Democrats  and  some  Republicans  (including  Senator 
Specter),  were  quick  to  condemn  many  of  the  "contract's"  provisions.  The  Ameri- 
can Jewish  Congress,  at  a  press  conference  called  by  religious  leaders  opposing  the 
initiative,  termed  the  document  a  "Contract  with  Some  of  America's  Families"  that 
"runs  roughshod  over  the  diversity  of  American  family  and  religious  life."  Orthodox 
Jewish  groups,  however,  indicated  that  they  would  deal  with  the  "contract"  issue 
by  issue,  as  they  had  in  the  past  supported  at  least  of  some  of  its  particulars.  The 
Union  of  Orthodox  Jewish  Congregations,  for  instance,  supported  vouchers  even 
while  it  joined  other  Jewish  organizations  in  opposing  the  constitutional  amendment 
that  the  "contract"  proposed. 

The  Clinton  Administration 

A  sign  of  the  friendly  relationship  between  the  Jewish  community  and  the  Clinton 
administration  was  the  fact  that  President  Clinton  and  First  Lady  Hillary  Rodham 
Clinton  attended  Rosh  Hashanah  services  at  a  Martha's  Vineyard  synagogue  in 
September  1994.  The  president,  believed  to  be  the  first  chief  executive  ever  to  attend 
a  High  Holy  Days  service,  wished  congregants  "Shana  Tovah,"  sang  along  with 
several  of  the  prayers — using  a  transliterated  prayer  book — and  listened  as  the 
congregation's  rabbi  blew  a  long  blast  on  a  shofar.  It's  "sort  of  like  a  Jewish 
saxophone,"  Rabbi  Joshua  Plaut  explained  to  the  president. 

In  early  December,  President  Clinton  named  Robert  Rubin,  one  of  his  chief 
economic  advisors  and  director  of  the  National  Economic  Council,  to  replace  Lloyd 
Bentsen  as  secretary  of  the  treasury.  This  was  followed  later  that  month  by  the 
designation  of  Dan  Glickman,  who  had  been  defeated  in  his  bid  for  reelection  to 
a  Kansas  congressional  seat,  to  succeed  Mike  Espy  as  agriculture  secretary.  Taken 
together  with  sitting  labor  secretary  Robert  Reich,  these  appointments  brought  the 
number  of  Jewish  members  of  the  cabinet  to  three.  Perhaps  the  most  noteworthy 
aspect  of  the  number  of  Jewish  members  at  this  high  level  of  the  administration  was 
the  lack  of  note  that  anybody — in  the  Jewish  community  or  in  the  community  at 
large — seemed  to  take  of  it. 

Also  noteworthy  was  the  Senate's  confirmation  in  March  1995  of  Martin  Indyk, 
by  voice  vote  and  with  no  debate,  as  U.S.  ambassador  to  Israel.  The  first  Jew  ever 
to  serve  in  that  position,  the  Australian-born  Indyk  was  a  former  consultant  for  the 
American  Israel  Public  Affairs  Committee  (AIPAC)  and  founding  executive  direc- 
tor of  the  Washington  Institute  for  Near  East  Policy,  a  pro-Israel  think  tank. 

(See  also  "Supreme  Court  Appointment,"  below.) 

U.S.     NATIONAL    AFFAIRS      /      111 


On  April  19,  1995,  a  car  bomb  exploded  in  front  of  the  Alfred  P.  Murrah  federal 
office  building  in  Oklahoma  City,  injuring  hundreds  and  killing  177  in  the  worst  act 
of  terror  committed  on  American  soil  in  the  nation's  history.  The  casualties  included 
15  dead  children  who  attended  a  day-care  center  located  on  the  second  floor  of  the 
nine-story  building.  For  days  after  the  blast,  the  nation  and  the  world  watched, 
collective  breath  held  in  the  agonized  hope  that  survivors  would  be  found  in  the 
building's  ruins. 

While  law-enforcement  officials  and  Jewish  agencies  were  quick  to  caution  against 
any  rush  to  judgment  as  to  responsibility  for  the  blast,  there  was  immediate  specula- 
tion— based  in  part  on  similarities  to  the  1993  World  Trade  Center  bombing — of 
some  connection  to  radical  Islamic  fundamentalism.  But  there  were  other  specula- 
tions as  well.  Nine  days  before  the  attack,  the  American  Jewish  Committee,  in  a 
report  issued  by  Kenneth  Stem,  its  program  specialist  on  anti-Semitism  and  extrem- 
ism, had  warned  that  April  19 — the  two-year  anniversary  of  the  raid  that  led  to  the 
destruction  of  the  Branch  Davidian  compound  in  Waco,  Texas — "is  a  day  of 
extreme  importance  to  the  militia  movement."  Stern's  warning  proved  sadly  pre- 
scient, as,  within  days  of  the  attack,  federal  authorities  arrested  a  suspect,  Timothy 
McVeigh,  a  man  with  links  to  paramiHtary  groups.  Also  held  for  questioning  were 
Terry  and  James  Nichols,  brothers  and  friends  of  McVeigh,  the  former  of  whom 
was  ultimately  charged  as  well. 

The  Oklahoma  City  bombing  focused  public  attention  on  the  militia  movement, 
which  claimed  the  loyalty  of  more  than  10,000  members  in  at  least  13  states.  Many 
of  these  groups  subscribe  to  a  virulently  antigovernment  ideology  linked  to  paranoid 
theories  of  conspiracy.  This  ideology — which  Stern  characterized  as  "really  a  re- 
write of  the  Protocols  of  the  Elders  of  Zion"  in  which  "anti-Semitism  is  recast  as 
anti-govemmentalism" — views  the  federal  government  as  fundamentally  illegiti- 
mate and  engaged  in  a  concealed  eff"ort  to  cede  American  sovereignty  to  interna- 
tional authority.  Although  the  militia  leaders  were  to  some  extent  allied  with  such 
hate  groups  as  the  Aryan  Nation  and  the  Ku  Klux  Klan,  their  ideology  targeted 
the  U.S.  government  and  not  necessarily  blacks,  Jews,  or  foreigners. 

The  need  to  address  the  threat  of  terrorism  and  the  desire  to  strengthen  the  hand 
of  law-enforcement  authorities — if  necessary — in  combatting  the  activities  of  ter- 
rorists were  on  the  agenda  of  Jewish  groups  and  public  officials  even  before  the 
events  in  Oklahoma  City.  In  March  1994  the  House  Banking  Committee  approved 
an  amendment  sponsored  by  Rep.  Douglas  Bereuter  (R.,  Neb.)  and  Peter  Deutsch 
(D.,  Fla.)  to  provide  the  Federal  Bureau  of  Investigation  with  access,  for  investiga- 
tory purposes,  to  the  credit  reports  of  terrorists  and  terrorist  groups.  These  questions 
were  also  taken  up  by  the  Clinton  administration,  which,  in  the  latter  part  of  1994, 
began  to  seek  ways  to  stop  the  flow  of  millions  of  dollars  annually  from  the  United 
States  to  Islamic  extremist  terrorists  in  the  Middle  East.  At  the  same  time,  an 
eight-agency  federal  task  force  formed  after  the  World  Trade  Center  bombing — 

112      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

including  representatives  of  the  State  Department,  FBI,  Justice  Department,  and 
White  House — was  charged  with  putting  together  a  proposed  package  of  antiterror- 
ism legislation  to  deal  with  those  areas  for  which  it  concluded  the  law  was  inade- 

As  1995  began,  the  Clinton  administration  acted  on  the  work  done  by  its  inter- 
agency task  force.  With  pubHc  attention  heightened  by  the  terrorist  bombing  at  Beit 
Lid  Junction  in  Israel  on  January  22,  the  administration  announced  a  ban  on 
charitable  contributions  to  12  Middle  East  terrorist  groups  and  the  freezing  of  their 
assets  in  the  United  States.  The  action,  applauded  by  many  in  the  Jewish  commu- 
nity, encompassed  Arab  groups  such  as  Hamas  and  Islamic  Jihad  and  two  Jewish 
militant  groups,  Kach  and  Kahane  Chai.  At  about  the  same  time,  the  administration 
unveiled  its  proposal  for  omnibus  antiterrorism  legislation  intended  to  strengthen 
the  hand  of  law-enforcement  authorities. 

Formally  introduced  in  Congress  on  February  10,  1995,  the  omnibus  bill  included 
provisions  for  expanding  federal  jurisdiction  over  terrorist  acts  in  the  United  States 
and  abroad;  special  closed-door  handling  of  classified  information  in  deportation 
hearings  for  aliens  accused  of  terrorist  activity;  restricting  transfer  of  funds  to 
organizations  designated  by  the  president  as  engaged  in  terrorist  activities;  and 
relaxing  of  the  standards  under  which  law-enforcement  officials  may  launch  and 
continue  investigations  of  persons  suspected  of  supporting  terrorist  activity.  Even 
as  the  bill  was  introduced,  its  sponsors  noted  that  there  were  constitutional  concerns 
about  certain  of  the  initiative's  provisions  and  promised  to  address  those  as  hearings 
went  forward.  Many  Jewish  groups  expressed  their  support  for  the  initiative,  al- 
though some  noted  civil  liberties  concerns  about  certain  aspects  of  the  legislation, 
Those  concerns  were  expressed  more  vociferously  by  a  variety  of  civil  rights  and 
ethnic  organizations,  including  the  American  Civil  Liberties  Union  and  the  Na- 
tional Association  of  Arab  Americans,  which  urged  that  the  bill  should  be  defeated 
as  a  blatant  violation  of  constitutional  protection. 

The  smoke  from  the  Oklahoma  City  bombing  had  not  yet  cleared  before  calls 
issued  for  swift  passage  of  the  pending  legislation,  and  the  administration  proposed 
a  revised  version  of  the  bill,  with  additional  provisions  intended  to  strengthen  the 
ability  of  law-enforcement  authorities  to  counter  domestic  terrorism. 

As  the  legislation  moved  through  the  hearing  and  mark-up  process  in  both 
houses,  new  versions  were  substituted  by  the  House  and  Senate  leadership  for  those 
introduced  at  the  behest  of  the  administration.  The  Anti-Defamation  League  and 
the  American  Jewish  Committee  were  among  the  most  prominent  voices  in  the 
Jewish  community  calling  for  strong  legislation  to  respond  to  the  threat  of  terrorism, 
both  following  up  on  their  respective  initiatives  in  late  1994  in  which  each  had 
proposed  a  multipoint  program  of  responses  at  international  and  domestic  levels. 
The  two  organizations  had  different  approaches,  however,  to  the  specific  legislative 
packages  moving  through  Congress.  The  ADL  urged  certain  changes  in  response 
to  the  constitutional  concerns  that  had  been  raised,  but  wanted  to  see  the  antiterror- 
ism legislation  enacted  whether  or  not  those  changes  were  made.  The  AJCommittee 

U.S.     NATIONAL    AFFAIRS      /      113 

more  strongly  expressed  its  civil-liberties  concerns,  noting  in  testimony  before  Con- 
gress that  there  were  many  urgently  needed  provisions  in  the  bills  but  that  other 
provisions  it  could  not  support  "as  written." 

On  June  7,  1 995,  the  Senate  passed  a  substantially  revised  version  of  the  legisla- 
tion, introduced  by  Sen.  Bob  Dole  (R.,  Kan.)  and  shepherded  by  Sen.  Orrin  Hatch 
(R.,  Utah),  that  went  some  distance  in  addressing  civil-liberties  concerns.  By  the 
reckoning  of  some  in  the  Jewish  community  it  went  too  far  in  that  direction,  raising 
doubts,  for  example,  that  the  bar  on  fund-raising  by  or  for  "designated"  organiza- 
tions would  even  be  enforceable.  On  the  other  hand,  many  in  the  Jewish  community 
were  alarmed  at  the  Senate-passed  bill's  inclusion  of  provisions  that  would  vitiate 
the  role  of  the  federal  courts  as  a  protector  of  constitutional  rights  in  state  criminal 
proceedings.  On  the  House  side,  on  June  20,  the  Judiciary  Committee  approved  a 
substitute  prepared  by  Chairman  Henry  Hyde  (R.,  111.)  by  a  vote  of  23- 12,  a  tally 
that  reflected  support  and  opposition  from  both  sides  of  the  aisle.  As  with  the  Senate 
bill,  it  made  improvements  vis-a-vis  some  civil-liberties  concerns  but  left  others 

Soviet  Jewry,  Refugees,  and  Immigration 

The  organized  Jewish  community  continued  its  long-standing  commitment  to 
maintain  legislation  that  allowed  Jews  from  the  former  Soviet  Union  to  obtain 
asylum  in  the  United  States  without,  in  each  case,  having  to  satisfy  the  individual- 
ized burden  of  proof  that  is  usually  applicable  to  those  who  seek  refugee  status.  The 
legislation  in  question,  first  enacted  in  1990  and  generally  known  as  the  "Lautenberg 
Amendment,"  afforded  this  eased  standard  to  refugees  considered  members  of 
"historically  persecuted  groups,"  a  status  that  encompassed  not  only  Soviet  Jews  but 
also,  among  others,  some  Indochinese.  The  amendment  was  extended  through  fiscal 
1 996  by  Congress  in  1 994,  but  by  mid- 1 99  5  a  proposed  extension  through  fiscal!  997 
had  not  yet  been  passed. 

At  the  same  time,  because  of  a  $100-million  budget  shortfall,  the  U.S.  Immigra- 
tion and  Naturalization  Office  announced  in  June  1994  that  beginning  on  July  1, 
the  number  of  refugee  interviews  would  be  nearly  halved  from  84  a  day  to  48.  By 
June  1995  it  was  noted  that  some  25,000  Jews  were  expected  to  arrive  over  the 
course  of  the  year  from  the  former  Soviet  Union,  as  compared  to  the  32,000  permit- 
ted entry  under  prevailing  law. 

For  the  first  time  ever,  Russia  was  declared  by  the  president  in  1994  to  be  in 
compliance  with  the  Jackson-Vanik  Amendment,  thereby  exempting  Russia  from 
the  annual  presidential  review  of  its  emigration  practices  that  the  statutory  provision 
would  otherwise  require.  Although  Jewish  groups  had  earlier  in  the  year  opposed 
a  repeal  of  Jackson-Vanik,  they  by  and  large  supported  the  president's  September 
action  as  "appropriate."  "It's  about  recognizing  progress  when  progress  takes 
place,"  said  Mark  Levin,  executive  director  of  the  National  Conference  on  Soviet 
Jewry.  It  was  noted  by  Jewish  representatives  that  Jackson-Vanik  would  remain  in 

114      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

effect  should  the  improvement  in  treatment  of  Jews  by  the  Russian  government  not 

The  104th  Congress  brought  Sen.  Alan  Simpson  (R.,  Wyo.)  to  the  chair  of  the 
Senate  Judiciary  Subcommittee  on  Immigration,  with  Rep.  Lamar  Smith  (R.,  Tex.) 
chairing  the  House's  counterpart  subcommittee.  From  the  start,  both  men  pushed 
proposals  to  cut  the  number  of  refugees  allowed  into  the  United  States  each  year 
by  more  than  50  percent,  with  substantial  reductions  also  contemplated  for  the 
number  of  immigrants  to  be  allowed  into  the  country  and  the  elimination  of  certain 
relatives  of  American  citizens  from  eligibility  for  family  reunification.  Alarmed  at 
the  impact  these  initiatives  would  have  on  Jewish  refugee  programs  and  motivated 
by  a  long-standing  general  commitment  to  fair  and  generous  immigration  policies, 
the  Council  of  Jewish  Federations  and  a  number  of  other  Jewish  organizations 
mobilized  in  opposition. 

Jewish  concern  about  U.S.  treatment  of  refugees  was  not  limited  to  those  fleeing 
persecution  in  the  former  Soviet  Union.  A  coalition  of  1 6  Jewish  local  and  national 
organizations  supported  the  efforts  of  Haitian  refugees  fleeing  from  their  island 
country's  military  regime  to  be  granted  status  as  political  refugees  or,  if  not  ulti- 
mately granted  asylum  status,  to  be  afforded  "safe  haven,"  possibly  in  a  third 
country.  The  situation  changed  completely,  and  these  urgings  were  largely  mooted, 
when,  in  September  1994,  the  ruling  junta — in  the  face  of  an  imminent  American 
invasion — agreed  to  depart  the  country  and  allow  deposed  president  Jean-Bertrand 
Aristide  to  return  to  power. 

The  widely  shared  view  within  the  Jewish  community  that  the  world  generally, 
and  the  United  States  in  particular,  was  not  responding  adequately  to  the  atrocities 
in  Bosnia — heightened  by  that  community's  sense  of  a  special  obligation  to  speak 
out  because  of  the  Jewish  people's  experiences  during  the  Holocaust — continued  to 
manifest  itself  throughout  1994  and  into  the  next  year.  Thus,  the  National  Hillel 
Foundation  conceived,  and  played  a  leading  role  in  organizing,  a  national  day  of 
education  on  college  campuses  early  in  the  year  about  the  Bosnian  civil  war  and  its 
implications.  On  February  1 6,  1 994,  approximately  200  Jews  gathered  outside  the 
White  House  and  listened  to  the  blowing  of  shofars  intended  to  draw  greater 
attention  to  the  ongoing  crisis.  The  American  Jewish  Congress  used  the  occasion 
to  reiterate  its  call  for  stronger  U.S.  action  to  combat  the  "ethnic  cleansing"  being 
carried  out  by  Serbs  against  Bosnian  Muslims.  The  American  Jewish  Committee, 
which  had  earlier  sought  a  more  direct  and  active  U.S.  involvement,  urged  in 
December  1994  that  the  U.S.  government  and  the  international  community  take  a 
more  active  role  in  ending  "ethnic  cleansing"  and  Serb  military  aggression. 

In  the  meantime,  Jewish  organizations  engaged  in  efforts  to  help  victims  of  the 
violence  in  Bosnia.  Some  of  these  initiatives,  such  as  Hesed  International's,  were 
meant  to  provide  general  relief  for  the  populace  at  large,  while  others,  such  as 
American  ORT's,  were  intended  to  assist  Jewish  victims  of  the  conflict.  The  Hebrew 
Immigrant  Aid  Society  and  the  Jewish  Federation  of  Metropolitan  Chicago  estab- 
lished a  joint  program  to  resettle  Bosnian  Muslim  refugees  in  Chicago. 

U.S.     NATIONAL    AFFAIRS      /      115 

Foreign  Aid 

Much  of  the  Jewish  community  was  committed  to  the  maintenance  of  foreign  aid, 
both  out  of  concern  to  preserve  aid  to  Israel  at  its  prevailing  $3-billion-a-year  level 
and  in  the  belief  that  the  modest  level  of  U.S.  foreign  aid  serves  the  national  interest. 
Throughout  1994,  the  pro-Israel  constituency  kept  a  close  watch  over  proposals  by 
the  Clinton  administration  to  overhaul  the  nation's  foreign  aid  program  so  as  to  link 
the  aid  to  broad  international  concerns,  as  opposed  to  the  existing  practice  of 
designating  specific  amounts  of  aid  for  specific  countries.  By  year's  end,  however, 
there  had  been  little  movement  in  the  direction  sketched  out  by  the  administration. 

With  the  arrival  of  a  new  Congress,  the  weight  of  concern  over  the  future  of 
foreign  aid  shifted  to  the  other  end  of  Pennsylvania  Avenue.  There  seemed  little 
danger  that  Israel  would  be  denied  the  $3  billion  in  direct  assistance  recommended 
by  the  administration  in  February  1995,  but  other  portions  of  the  foreign  aid 
package  were  quickly  placed  in  question.  The  Jewish  community,  generally  support- 
ive of  foreign  aid,  was  split  as  to  how  to  respond  to  legislation  that  gave  the 
community  what  it  wanted  on  aid  to  Israel  but  not  in  other  crucial  areas.  AIPAC 
urged  Congress  to  vote  for  the  package;  the  American  Jewish  Committee,  in  con- 
trast, advised  legislators  that,  notwithstanding  the  provision  for  aid  to  Israel  at 
current  levels,  the  agency  could  not  support  a  bill  that  so  slashed  foreign  aid.  By 
June  1995  the  U.S.  Congress  had  passed  an  authorization  bill  that  drastically  cut 
foreign  aid  other  than  to  participants  in  the  Middle  East  peace  process.  In  an 
unusual  turnaround,  it  carried  only  because  of  Republican  support.  Many  Demo- 
crats, including  the  pro-Israel  Congressional  Black  Caucus  and  Jewish  House  mem- 
bers, voted  against  it,  arguing  that,  together  with  its  other  flaws,  it  would  undermine 
future  aid  to  Israel.  The  president  vetoed  the  authorization  bill,  leaving  Congress 
to  set  foreign  aid  levels  for  the  coming  year  in  the  foreign  aid  appropriations  bill. 

Arab  Boycott 

As  the  peace  process  continued,  there  were  signs  that  the  Arab  boycott  against 
Israel,  in  place  since  the  Jewish  state's  founding  in  1948,  was  beginning  to  deterio- 
rate, particularly  the  "secondary"  and  "tertiary"  boycotts  directed  at  companies 
doing  business  with  Israel  and  not  at  the  state  itself  Nevertheless,  it  remained 
necessary  for  the  U.S.  Commerce  Department  to  bring  enforcement  actions  for 
violations  of  American  law  prohibiting  cooperation  with  the  boycott.  In  May  1994 
the  Atlanta  branch  of  Banca  Nazionale  del  Lavoro  paid  a  civil  fine  of  $475,000  for 
providing  information  to  Iraqi  banks  about  foreign  companies'  relationships  with 
Israel  and  for  its  failure  to  report  to  the  Commerce  Department  on  requests  for 
boycott-related  information  from  various  Arab  countries.  At  various  times  through- 
out the  year,  the  Commerce  Department  continued  to  announce  the  levy  of  fines 
assessed  against  U.S.  companies  for  allegedly  complying  with  the  boycott. 

A  sign  of  the  times:  in  October  1994  the  American  Jewish  Congress  announced 

116      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH     YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

that  after  18  years  it  would  be  ending  publication  of  its  Boycott  Report ,  a  newsletter 
that  kept  tabs  on  the  Arab  boycott  and  steps  taken  against  it.  "We  think  the  boycott 
is  on  its  last  legs,"  said  AJCongress  general  counsel  Will  Maslow,  the  guiding  hand 
behind  the  newsletter  from  its  beginning.  AJCongress  indicated  that  it  would  instead 
be  issuing  a  new  publication,  this  time  focused  on  radical  Islamic  fundamentalism. 
Similarly,  the  inclusion  of  antiboycott  provisions  in  the  House-considered  version 
of  legislation  to  ratify  the  General  Agreement  on  Tariffs  and  Trade  drew  only 
cursory  support,  if  at  all,  from  Jewish  groups. 


Assessing  Anti-Semitism 

The  Anti-Defamation  League  released  its  annual  audit  of  anti-Semitic  incidents 
in  early  1994  and  1995.  The  1,867  incidents  reported  for  1993,  as  compared  with 
1985's  1,044  incidents,  was  the  highest  number  since  1980,  the  year  ADL  began 
preparing  the  audit;  the  1 994  report  saw  yet  another  increase,  this  time  to  2,066 
incidents.  A  particularly  troublesome  trend  was  the  increase  in  numbers  of  incidents 
reported  on  college  campuses:  122  incidents  on  81  campuses  for  1993  and  143 
incidents  on  79  campuses  for  1994,  as  compared  to  114  incidents  on  60  campuses 
in  1992. 

While  the  number  of  incidents  reported  in  these  audits  reached  a  new  high,  the 
number  of  reported  incidents  of  anti-Semitic  graffiti  and  violence  declined  in  1993 
for  the  third  straight  year — only  to  rise  to  869  in  1994,  a  higher  number  than  in 
recent  years.  Commenting  on  the  1994  numbers,  Jerome  Chanes,  co-director  for 
domestic  concerns  of  the  National  Jewish  Community  Relations  Advisory  Council, 
asserted  that,  notwithstanding  the  new  high  in  overall  incidents,  "you  have  a  very 
dramatic,  well-documented  decline  in  attitudinal  anti-Semitism  over  many  years 
which  continues.  [But]  the  relatively  few  individuals  who  harbor  anti-Jewish  atti- 
tudes have  had  in  recent  years  a  greater  propensity  to  act  out  their  views." 

Also  released  in  the  first  part  of  1994  was  the  annual  Hate  Crimes  Report  of  the 
Federal  Bureau  of  Investigation  for  the  year  1992,  according  to  which  Jews  were 
by  far  the  most  frequent  targets  of  hate  crimes  based  on  religion.  Crimes  against 
Jews  constituted  an  overwhelming  87  percent  of  all  reported  crimes  motivated  by 
bias  against  religious  groups,  with  crimes  motivated  by  religious  bias  making  up  15.4 
percent  of  all  hate  crimes  reported.  Anti- Jewish  crimes  made  up  13.4  percent  of  all 
hate  crimes  of  any  category,  followed  (not  very  closely)  by  anti-Protestant  crimes 
at  0.4  percent  and  anti-Mushm  crimes  at  0.2  percent. 

The  process  by  which  the  FBI  compiled  its  report  was  open  to  criticism.  Collected 
pursuant  to  the  directive  of  the  1990  Hate  Crimes  Statistics  Act,  the  information 
upon  which  the  report  relies  was  collected  from  state  and  local  law-enforcement 
authorities  on  a  voluntary  basis.  Fewer  than  half  the  nation's  law-enforcement 

U.S.     NATIONAL    AFFAIRS      /      117 

agencies  provided  information  on  hate  crimes  for  1992.  Moreover,  for  some  states 
the  numbers  were  so  low  as  to  suggest  that  the  standards  propounded  by  the  FBI 
as  to  what  does  and  does  not  constitute  a  hate  crime  had  not  been  fully  understood 
and  applied  by  the  responsible  agencies. 

Notwithstanding  the  apparent  recent  upward  trend  in  acts  of  anti-Semitism,  there 
were  other  indications  of  a  long-term  favorable  trend.  A  report  published  by  the 
American  Jewish  Committee  in  June  1994  indicated  that  anti-Semitism  in  the 
United  States  had  decreased  appreciably  over  the  last  half-century,  and  that  circum- 
stances were  not  ripe  for  its  resurgence.  The  author  of  the  report,  Tom  W.  Smith, 
director  of  the  General  Social  Survey  at  the  National  Opinion  Research  Center, 
University  of  Chicago,  reviewed  public-opinion  polls  going  back  to  1948  and  found 
that,  while  "virulent  anti-Semitism  persists  among  fringe  hate  groups,"  it  lacked  a 
"critical  mass"  to  become  significant  in  the  general  population.  Rather,  the  indica- 
tions were  that  over  the  decades  there  have  been  "direct  or  indirect  decreases  in 
anti-Semitism."  Nevertheless,  the  report  cautioned  that  "Jews  are  still  recognized 
as  an  ethnic  and  religious  group  and  are  evaluated  as  such.  While  stereotypes  have 
ebbed  and  social  distance  has  narrowed,  anti-Semitic  prejudices  still  survive  and 
anti-Semitic  activities  are  all  too  common." 

Acts  of  Violence 

There  was  substantial  concern  about  the  potential  for  violence  against  Jews  after 
the  February  25,  1994,  murder  by  a  Jewish  settler  of  over  40  Arabs  praying  in  a 
mosque  at  the  Tomb  of  the  Patriarchs  in  Hebron.  Security  was  tightened  at  Jewish 
institutions  around  the  country  in  the  wake  of  the  shooting,  especially  so  in  New 
York,  where  jury  deliberations  had  begun  in  the  trial  of  several  of  the  persons 
accused  in  the  World  Trade  Center  bombing. 

The  validity  of  these  fears  seemed  borne  out  the  very  week  after  the  massacre  with 
the  drive-by  shooting  attack  on  a  van  of  Lubavitch  Hassidim  en  route  to  Brooklyn 
from  Manhattan,  reportedly  by  an  Arab  male  who  shouted  "Death  to  the  Jews"  as 
he  fired.  Of  four  victims  injured  in  the  shooting,  one,  15-year-old  Ari  Halberstam, 
later  died;  another,  18-year-old  Nochum  Sossonkin,  was  injured  so  seriously  that 
his  later  substantial  (if  not  complete)  recovery  and  return  home  were  hailed  as 
nothing  less  than  a  miracle  by  his  community. 

Police  quickly  arrested  and  charged  Rashid  Baz,  a  28-year-old  Lebanese  national, 
in  the  shooting.  There  was  immediate  concern  that  the  American  Arab  community 
not  be  stigmatized  by  this  incident.  Mayor  Rudolph  Giuliani  stressed  that  "this  act 
of  evil  is  not  the  act  of  a  people,  it's  the  act  of  a  person  or  persons,"  a  point  that 
was  made  by  the  Jewish  community  as  well.  Baz  was  convicted  of  murder  and 
attempted  murder  at  trial,  and  in  January  1995  was  sentenced  to  a  total  of  141  years 
and  eight  months. 

A  Torah  academy  in  suburban  Chicago  was  gutted  in  a  late  January  1994  arson, 
a  crime  in  which  three  Palestinians  were  charged.  The  fire  was  allegedly  set  in 

118      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

protest  of  Israeli  treatment  of  Palestinians.  It  was  one  of  five  separate  acts  of 
vandalism  and  arson  that  took  place  on  the  same  date,  but  no  connection  was 
conclusively  established.  The  incident  was  condemned  by  local  public  officials  and 
community  organizations,  including  local  Arab  leaders. 

In  March  1994  Kansas  City  police  arrested  three  young  men  who  had  engaged 
in  a  two-month  rash  of  anti-Semitic  vandalism.  These  acts  of  vandahsm  included 
spray-painting  graffiti  at  two  synagogues  and  a  shopping  mall  and  planting  a  Molo- 
tov  cocktail — that  failed  to  explode — at  a  local  Chabad  House.  While  there  was  no 
initial  evidence  that  the  arrested  youths  (two  of  them  young  enough  to  be  referred 
to  juvenile  court)  were  connected  to  any  hate  group,  the  spray-painted  slogans 
reflected  awareness  of  the  organized  white  supremacist  movement  (these  included 
a  shield,  the  symbol  of  the  Aryan  Nations  movement,  and  the  words  "White  Power" 
with  a  line  through  the  "o"). 

Two  members  of  local  skinhead  gangs  in  Eugene,  Oregon,  were  arrested  in  April 
for  their  role  in  a  drive-by  shooting  in  which  bullets  went  through  two  stained-glass 
windows  of  a  local  synagogue.  Representatives  of  several  local  churches  and  com- 
munity groups,  including  the  NAACP  and  the  Eugene  Human  Rights  Commission, 
made  a  show  of  support  at  a  press  conference  held  the  day  after  the  shooting,  and 
local  Christian  leaders  held  nightly  vigils  at  the  synagogue  for  several  days  thereaf- 
ter. In  other  incidents,  a  Jewish  cemetery  was  desecrated  twice  in  two  months  in 
Bayside,  Queens,  in  New  York  City,  with  approximately  50  headstones  knocked 
over  and  anti-Semitic  epithets  such  as  "kill  the  Jews"  and  "hate  Jews"  scrawled  on 

A  long-standing,  but  declining,  Jewish  community  was  dealt  a  harsh  blow  when, 
in  July  1994,  the  Congregation  Derech  Emunoh  synagogue  in  the  Arveme  section 
of  Queens,  New  York,  was  gutted  in  an  early-morning  arson  fire.  That  same  week, 
a  synagogue  on  Chicago's  North  Side  was  hit  by  a  makeshift  bomb,  with  minimal 
damage,  yet  another  in  a  series  of  anti-Semitic  acts  of  vandalism  in  that  neighbor- 

An  18-year-old  case  of  anti-Semitic  murder  was  resolved  in  November  1994  when 
a  white  supremacist,  already  sentenced  to  life  in  prison  for  the  murder  of  four  other 
people,  confessed  to  the  1977  killing  of  a  Jewish  St.  Louis  resident.  Joseph  Paul 
Franklin  admitted  that  he  had  killed  Gerald  Gordon  as  he  left  a  synagogue  and 
wounded  two  other  men  in  the  attack,  because  he  had  "planned  to  kill  as  many  Jews 
as  he  could  that  day."  Franklin  was  charged  with  murder  and  related  counts  after 
the  confession  and  could  face  the  death  penalty  if  convicted.  Franklin  was  a  former 
member  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  and  a  neo-Nazi  party. 


On  January  25,  1994,  U.S.  attorney  general  Janet  Reno  announced  that  the 
Justice  Department  was  willing  to  empanel  a  federal  grand  jury  to  investigate  the 
murder  of  Yankel  Rosenbaum,  the  Hassidic  scholar  who  was  stabbed  to  death 

U.S.     NATIONAL    AFFAIRS      /      119 

during  the  1991  Crown  Heights  riots.  This  announcement  received  an  ambivalent 
reaction  from  the  New  York  Jewish  community.  While  welcoming  it  as  a  step 
forward,  many  agreed  with  the  comment  of  Judah  Gribetz,  president  of  the  Jewish 
Community  Relations  Council  of  New  York,  that  the  inquiry  was  but  an  "important 
first  step  into  the  long  overdue  federal  civil  rights  inquiry"  into  not  just  the  Rosen- 
baum  murder  but  also  the  Crown  Heights  riots  generally. 

Similar  ambivalence  greeted  the  report  in  August  1994  that  Lemrick  Nelson,  Jr., 
had  been  indicted  on  federal  criminal  charges  of  violating  Rosenbaum's  civil  rights. 
Nelson,  who  was  the  only  person  ever  arrested  in  connection  with  the  Rosenbaum 
killing,  was  acquitted  on  state  murder  charges  in  1992.  Some  in  the  Crown  Heights 
community  questioned  whether,  notwithstanding  the  indictment,  federal  investiga- 
tors were  pursuing  leads  and  interviewing  witnesses  vigorously  enough.  In  addition, 
a  spokesperson  for  the  Crown  Heights  Jewish  Community  Council,  joined  by  a 
number  of  national  Jewish  organizations,  called  for  indictments  for  the  "hundreds 
of  [other]  acts  of  violence"  that  were  committed  against  "Jewish  citizens  of  Crown 
Heights"  in  the  course  of  the  riots. 

The  continuing  disappointment  in  the  handling  of  the  Rosenbaum  case  deepened 
in  April  1995  with  the  decision  by  U.S.  district  court  judge  David  Trager  that 
Nelson  would  be  tried  as  a  juvenile.  Various  Jewish  groups,  area  congressional 
representatives,  and  other  local  political  leaders  weighed  in  with  statements  asser- 
ting that  the  court  had  failed  to  treat  this  offense  with  the  appropriate  seriousness. 
If  convicted  after  trial  as  a  juvenile,  Lemrick  would  be  subject  to  a  maximum 
sentence  of  five  years,  whereas  if  tried  and  convicted  on  all  counts  as  an  adult,  he 
would  receive  a  mandatory  life  sentence.  In  May  1 995  the  Justice  Department  filed 
an  appeal  from  Judge  Trager's  decision. 

Extremist  Groups 

High-technology  had  come  into  play  as  a  new  means  for  promoting  anti-Semi- 
tism, according  to  reports  issued  in  1994  by  the  London-based  Institute  of  Jewish 
Affairs  (IJA).  The  IJA  report  asserted  that  electronic  dissemination  of  anti-Semitic 
material  through  computer  networks  and  bulletin-board  systems  and  distribution  of 
anti-Semitic  computer  games,  video  cassettes,  and  radio  and  television  programs 
had  increased  substantially.  The  IJA  also  indicated  that  the  National  Socialist 
German  Workers  Party -Overseas  Organization,  an  American  neo-Nazi  group,  was 
distributing  its  publications  by  computer  to  Austria,  Germany,  France,  and  the 
Netherlands.  Much  of  the  anti-Semitic  material  that  found  its  way  into  Europe 
originated  in  the  United  States,  which,  unlike  many  other  countries,  had  not  enacted 
restrictions  on  hate  speech. 

120      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

Holocaust  Denial 

Responding  to  the  practice  of  many  university  newspapers  of  accepting  ads  for 
publication  that  denied  the  Holocaust  or  distorted  its  extent,  the  Synagogue  Council 
of  America  (SCA)  joined  together  with  the  National  Conference  of  Catholic  Bishops 
(NCCB)  in  March  1994  in  a  statement  that  described  the  notion  that  there  is  any 
obligation  to  publish  this  material  as  a  "perversion  of  the  First  Amendment." 

Some  university  newspapers  published  the  advertisements  based  on  the  premise 
that  even  Holocaust  deniers  have  a  right  to  express  their  views,  while  others  pub- 
lished the  text  of  the  advertisements  accompanied  by  an  editorial  refutation.  In  their 
statement,  the  SCA  and  NCCB  urged  that  neither  of  these  responses  was  appropri- 
ate, that  newspaper  advertisers  should  simply  refuse  to  run  these  ads  and  not  operate 
on  the  basis  of  misguided  notions  of  freedom  of  speech.  "If  someone  has  stated  that 
the  world  is  flat,  we  don't  have  to  give  it  publicity  as  an  alternative  view,"  said  Rabbi 
Shel  Schiff"man,  executive  vice-president  of  the  Synagogue  Council. 

In  January  1995  advocates  of  Holocaust  education  considered  their  cause 
strengthened  when  House  Speaker  Newt  Gingrich  announced — and  quickly  with- 
drew— the  appointment  as  House  historian  of  an  educator  who  had  opposed  fund- 
ing a  Holocaust  education  program  for  not  reflecting  "the  Nazi  point  of  view." 
Gingrich  fired  Christina  Jeff"rey  within  hours  of  learning  that  she  had  opposed  a 
middle-school  and  high-school  Holocaust  curriculum  as  "biased."  The  Speaker's 
action,  said  Benjamin  Meed,  president  of  the  American  Gathering  of  Holocaust 
Survivors,  "sends  an  important  message  that  there's  no  place  for  this  type  of  view 
in  the  country."  Jeff"rey  denied  being  a  Holocaust  denier  and  vowed  to  seek  vindica- 

Bigotry  on  the  Campus 

The  ongoing  controversy  over  Prof  Leonard  Jeff"ries  continued  to  unfold.  Jeffries 
was  discharged  in  March  1992  from  his  position  as  chairman  of  the  Black  Studies 
Department  of  the  City  College  of  the  City  University  of  New  York  (CUNY) 
because  of  the  anti-Semitic  content  of  a  speech  given  by  him  in  1991.  The  speech 
was  part  and  parcel  of  a  racist  and  anti-Semitic  ideology  that  he  had  been  expound- 
ing for  years,  but  it  received  greater  attention  because  of  the  public  forum  in  which 
it  was  delivered.  Jeff"ries  was  reinstated  to  his  post,  one  he  had  occupied  since  1972, 
when  a  federal  trial  court  ruled  that  the  university  had  violated  his  First  Amend- 
ment rights.  This  determination  was  upheld  in  April  1994  by  a  federal  appeals  court. 
The  appeals  court  reversed,  however,  the  earlier  determination  that  JeffHes  was 
entitled  to  $360,000  damages. 

In  November  1994  the  U.S.  Supreme  Court  issued  a  two-sentence  ruling  that 
required  the  appeals  court  to  reconsider  its  ruling  in  light  of  a  decision  earlier  that 
year  by  the  high  court  suggesting  that  public  employers  have  some  latitude  in 
disciplining  employees  whose  speech  disrupts  the  workplace.  Jewish  groups  ap- 

U.S.     NATIONAL    AFFAIRS      /      121 

plauded  the  Supreme  Court's  action,  expressing  their  belief  that  a  university  has  the 
right  to  deny  a  bigot  a  position  that  makes  him  or  her,  in  effect,  the  institution's 
spokesperson.  During  the  period  between  the  appeals  court's  and  the  Supreme 
Court's  rulings,  the  City  University  announced  the  creation  of  the  CUNY  Institute 
for  Research  on  the  Diaspora  in  the  Americas  and  Caribbean.  This  new  black 
research  institute  was  to  be  operated  independently  of  Jeffries'  department  and  to 
be  headed  by  Edmund  Gordon,  the  professor  who  led  the  Black  Studies  Department 
during  the  period  between  Jeffries'  ouster  and  reinstatement. 

Against  the  backdrop  of  this  Supreme  Court  ruHng,  in  April  1995  the  federal 
appeals  court  for  the  Second  Circuit  reversed  the  earlier  ruHng  reinstating  Jeffries 
as  head  of  City  College's  Black  Studies  Department.  Samuel  Rabinove,  legal  direc- 
tor of  the  American  Jewish  Committee,  noted  that  this  decision  reflected  an  appro- 
priate distinction  between  a  professor  and  a  department  head:  "Department  heads 
represent  the  university  much  more  visibly,  so  a  university  should  have  much 
greater  latitude  in  terms  of  deciding  who  will  lead  a  department."  In  June  1995  the 
department  faculty  announced  that  it  had  elected  Prof.  Moyibi  Amodo  to  succeed 
Jeffries  as  its  head.  Jeffries  indicated  that,  while  he  would  continue  as  a  tenured 
professor  at  the  university,  he  would  not  seek  another  term  as  department  chair. 
Representatives  of  various  Jewish  organizations  noted  their  satisfaction  that  there 
was  now  some  closure  to  this  long-standing  controversy. 

Howard  University,  generally  recognized  as  the  nation's  leading  black  university, 
received  some  unwelcome  attention  in  1994,  in  February  as  host— by  invitation  of 
a  student  group — for  one  of  Khalid  Muhammad's  fiery  racist  diatribes,  and  then 
in  April  as  the  site  of  a  series  of  anti-Semitic  presentations,  as  Muhammad,  Jeffries, 
and  Wellesley  College  professor  Tony  Martin  spoke  at  a  student-sponsored  event 
to  an  enthusiastic  crowd  of  2,000.  University  officials  indicated  that  they  had  con- 
sented to  the  event  only  because  they  felt  bound  to  do  so  by  the  First  Amendment. 
With  hatred  of  Jews  a  leitmotif  of  the  evening,  the  already  famiUar  accusations  of 
Jewish  dominance  of  the  slave  trade  were  joined  by  fresh  rhetoric  diminishing  the 
horrors  of  the  Holocaust  and  claiming  that  Jewish  Holocaust  memorials  were 
nothing  more  than  an  effort  to  divert  attention  from  the  "black  Holocaust"  of 
Africans  under  slavery. 

In  the  aftermath  of  these  events,  Howard  University  officials  were  left  to  fight  the 
perception  in  some  quarters  that  its  student  body  supported  the  views  of  anti- 
Semites  and  racists.  The  controversy  was  heightened  by  the  news  in  early  April  that 
Yale  University  historian  David  Brion  Davis,  an  expert  on  the  history  of  slavery, 
who  happens  to  be  Jewish,  was  asked  to  postpone  a  scheduled  lecture  because  of 
fear  that  he  would  be  heckled.  Local  Jewish  groups  criticized  the  university  for  not 
moving  quickly  enough  to  distance  itself  from  the  views  expressed  by  Muhammad, 
Jeffries,  and  Martin.  The  university  was  faced  with  threats  from  various  sources  of 
cutoffs  in  personal  or  institutional  support.  University  officials  insisted  at  a  press 
conference  held  after  the  Muhammad- Jeffries-Martin  event  that  most  of  those  at- 
tending the  speeches  were  not  students  but  area  residents,  and  that  the  views 

122      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

expressed  by  the  speakers  did  not  enjoy  widespread  student  support. 

Clear  across  the  country,  San  Francisco  State  University  was  the  scene  of  perhaps 
the  year's  most  widely  reported  clash  between  Jewish  and  black  students.  On  May 
19,  1994,  a  black  student  group  unveiled  an  on-campus  mural  of  Malcolm  X,  which 
included  Stars  of  David  surrounded  by  dollar  signs,  skulls  and  crossbones,  and  the 
words  "African  blood."  Jewish  students  attacked  the  mural  as  anti-Semitic  and 
called  for  removal  of  the  offending  portion;  African-American  students  responded 
by  closing  ranks  in  support  of  what  they  asserted  was  a  symbol  of  the  black  struggle 
for  self-determination.  In  the  end,  university  president  Robert  Corrigan  declared 
that  "if  we  were  to  allow  the  mural  to  remain  as  it  is,  we  would  be  contributing  to 
a  hostile  campus  environment,  one  which  says  to  students:  'We  tolerate  intolerance; 
we  are  silent  in  the  face  of  bigotry.'  "  He  directed  that  the  mural  be  painted  over. 

Legislative  and  Judicial  Activity 

Legislation  to  establish  hate-crime  prevention  programs  in  schools  around  the 
country  was  approved  in  March  1994  as  an  amendment  to  the  House  of  Representa- 
tives' major  education  bill.  Under  this  legislation,  sponsored  by  Rep.  Nydia  Ve- 
lazquez (D.,  N.Y.),  the  Department  of  Education  would  award  grants  to  local 
education  and  community  groups  to  develop  training  programs  and  curricula  to 
fight  prejudice. 

In  a  decision  that  surprised  virtually  nobody,  the  New  Jersey  Supreme  Court 
overturned  the  state's  hate-crimes  law  in  May  1994  on  the  grounds  that  it  violated 
the  First  Amendment's  protection  of  free  speech,  while  upholding  another  law  that 
allows  for  enhanced  penalties  for  individuals  who  harass  others  on  the  basis  of  racial 
or  ethnic  bias.  The  stricken  law,  which  made  it  illegal  to  burn  a  cross  or  display  a 
swastika  or  any  other  symbol  on  another  person's  property  if  it  exposed  that  person 
to  increased  fear  of  physical  harm  caused  as  a  result  of  ethnic  bias,  tracked  in  many 
respects  the  statute  overturned  by  the  U.S.  Supreme  Court  in  a  1992  opinion.  The 
law  the  New  Jersey  high  court  upheld,  in  contrast,  was  substantially  similar  to  a 
Wisconsin  municipal  regulation  upheld  by  the  U.S.  high  court  in  1993.  Rather  than 
punishing  the  expression  of  hate,  the  upheld  New  Jersey  law  increases  the  level  of 
the  crime  and  the  penalty  when  an  individual  acts  on  such  beliefs  and  intentionally 
carries  out  an  act  of  harassment  based  on  the  victim's  race,  religion,  or  ethnic 

The  controversial  $30-billion  federal  crime  bill  signed  into  law  by  the  president 
in  1994,  while  containing  some  provisions  to  which  many  Jewish  groups  were 
opposed  (in  particular,  its  expansion  of  the  death  penalty),  included  measures 
directed  at  terrorism  and  hate  crimes.  One  provision,  the  Hate  Crime  Sentencing 
Enhancement  Act,  enhances  the  penalty  for  federal  crimes  in  which  the  victim  of 
the  offense  is  selected  by  reason  of  such  categories  as  religion  or  race.  The  bill  also 
establishes  new  categories  of  federal  crimes  associated  with  terrorism  and  makes  it 
a  crime  to  provide  "material  support"  for  carrying  out  designated  terrorist  offenses. 

U.S.     NATIONAL    AFFAIRS      /      123 

These  antiterrorism  measures,  while  not  widely  noted,  drew  opposition  from  Irish- 
American  and  civil-liberties  groups  concerned  that  the  portions  directed  at  fund- 
raising  activities  would  penalize  Americans  who  want  to  support  the  legitimate 
charitable  activities  of  groups  that  also  engage  in  (depending  on  one's  point  of  view) 
terrorism  or  armed  resistance.  In  the  end,  in  response  to  the  advocacy  of  those 
groups,  certain  of  those  latter  provisions  were  somewhat  weakened. 

Other  Anti-Semitic  Incidents 

There  were,  as  usual,  a  number  of  instances  in  which  prominent  persons  let  slip 
comments  invoking  anti-Semitic  stereotypes  that  generally  resulted  in  an  apology 
from  the  offender  when  protested.  Thus,  after  a  complaint  from  the  ADL,  country 
singer  Dolly  Parton  apologized  for  asserting  in  a  magazine  interview  that  she  had 
abandoned  the  idea  of  doing  a  television  series  about  a  gospel  singer  "because  most 
of  the  people  out  here  [in  Hollywood]  are  Jewish,  and  it's  a  frightening  thing  for 
them  to  promote  Christianity." 

In  another  case,  Phillies  pitcher  Steve  Carlton  denied  remarks  attributed  to  him 
to  the  effect  that  "the  elders  of  Zion  rule  the  world."  The  reporter  who  made  these 
comments  public  stood  by  his  story,  and  Carlton  stood  by  his  denial.  In  the  end, 
Jewish  groups,  while  reacting  with  concern  to  the  nature  of  the  reported  remarks, 
described  as  a  positive  development  Carlton's  rejection  of  the  legitimacy  of  racist 

Michael  Jackson's  June  1995  album  was  not  even  in  the  stores  when  it  was 
enveloped  in  controversy.  The  lyrics  of  "They  Don't  Care  About  Us,"  a  song  in  the 
album,  included  the  phrases  "Jew  me"  and  "kike  me."  Jackson's  initial  reaction, 
when  questioned  about  the  lyrics,  was  to  assert  that  the  song  symbolized  all  victims 
of  prejudice.  He  soon  apologized  and  promised  to  include  a  paragraph  with  all 
copies  of  the  album  not  already  shipped  expressing  regrets  "to  anyone  who  might 
have  been  hurt,"  and  stating  that  "unfortunately,  my  words  have  unintentionally 
hurt  the  very  people  I  want  to  stand  in  solidarity  with."  By  the  end  of  the  month, 
it  was  announced,  later  editions  of  his  album  would  be  revised  so  as  not  to  include 
the  objectionable  lyrics. 

Ed  Rollins,  the  well-known  political  adviser  and  a  senior  consultant  to  Senate 
Majority  Leader  Bob  Dole  in  the  latter's  presidential  run,  was  strongly  criticized 
by  Jewish  groups  when,  in  May  1995,  he  referred  to  Representatives  Howard 
Herman  and  Henry  Waxman,  both  Democrats  from  California,  as  "those  two 
Hymie  boys."  RoUins  apologized  for  his  remarks  as  without  "justification  or  ex- 
cuse," but  sought  to  mitigate  the  offense  by  asserting  that  the  comments  were  made 
"with  great  irreverence  and  attempt  at  humor."  The  Dole  campaign  apologized  for 
Rollins'  comments  as  "totally  inexcusable"  and  then,  within  days,  Rollins  resigned 
from  his  role  in  the  campaign. 

124      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

Black-Jewish  Relations 


1994  saw  the  further  unfolding  of  a  theme  that  had  been  a  discordant  note  in 
black-Jewish  relations  for  several  years — the  disappointment  of  the  organized 
American  Jewish  community  at  the  legitimacy  afforded  the  Nation  of  Islam  (NOI) 
and  its  leader,  Minister  Louis  Farrakhan,  by  much  of  the  black  community,  not- 
withstanding the  rampant  anti-Semitism  and  racism  of  that  movement's  teachings. 

Late  in  1993,  Nation  of  Islam  spokesman  Khalid  Muhammad  delivered  a  speech 
at  New  Jersey's  Kean  College  in  the  course  of  which,  along  with  other  anti-Semitic, 
anti-white,  anti-Catholic,  and  anti-gay  comments,  he  referred  to  Jews  as  "the  blood- 
suckers of  the  black  nation,"  claimed  that  they  controlled  the  White  House,  the 
media,  and  the  Federal  Reserve,  and  said  that  they  had  brought  the  Holocaust  on 
themselves.  These  remarks  initially  received  little  attention  outside  of  the  Jewish 
community,  but  the  picture  changed  dramatically  when,  on  January  16,  1994,  the 
Anti-Defamation  League  ran  a  full-page  advertisement  in  the  New  York  Times  with 
extensive  verbatim  excerpts  from  Muhammad's  speech. 

Almost  immediately  there  was  a  chorus  of  condemnation  from  many  leaders  in 
the  black  community.  Rep.  Kweisi  Mfume  (R.,  Md.),  who,  as  chairman  of  the 
Congressional  Black  Caucus,  had  some  two  months  earlier  spoken  of  a  "sacred 
covenant"  with  the  Nation  of  Islam,  condemned  Muhammad  and  called  on  Farra- 
khan to  disavow  him.  Benjamin  Chavis,  Jr.,  executive  director  of  the  National 
Association  for  the  Advancement  of  Colored  People,  asserted  that  he  was  "appalled 
that  any  human  being  would  stoop  so  low  to  make  such  violence-prone  anti-Semitic 
statements."  Jesse  Jackson  described  the  speech  as  "racist,  anti-Semitic,  divisive, 
untrue  and  chilling"  and  called  on  Farrakhan  to  distance  himself  from  its  assertions. 

Farrakhan  did  nothing  of  the  sort.  Instead,  during  a  speech  given  in  late  January, 
he  made  his  own  conspiratorial  accusations  of  Jewish  plotting  against  him,  suggest- 
ing in  response  to  black  condemnation  of  Muhammad  that  his  enemies  "want  to  use 
some  of  our  brothers  and  some  of  our  brothers  are  willing  to  be  used."  Any  hope 
that  Farrakhan  would  distance  himself  from  the  repugnant  ideology  of  his  lieuten- 
ant was  given  its  final  interment  at  a  press  conference  held  on  Thursday,  February 
3.  Announcing  that  he  was  disciplining  Muhammad,  "not  for  the  message  but  for 
the  manner  in  which  it  had  been  delivered,"  Farrakhan  went  on  to  deliver  remarks 
that  were  themselves  racist  and  anti-Semitic.  These  included  a  substantial  dose  of 
conspiratorial  allegations  explicitly  directed  at  the  Anti-Defamation  League,  claim- 
ing that  the  ADL  "seeks  total  control  of  the  Jewish  people,  many  of  whom  would 
have  dialogued  with  us  if  it  were  not  for  the  wicked  aim  and  purpose  of  the  ADL 
and  its  leadership."  David  Harris,  executive  director  of  the  American  Jewish  Com- 

U.S.     NATIONAL    AFFAIRS      /      125 

mittee,  characterized  Farrakhan's  comments  as  "the  same  old  bone-chiUing  hate 
delivered  with  a  smile." 

The  day  before  the  press  conference,  Mfume  announced  that  the  Congressional 
Black  Caucus  disavowed  the  "sacred  covenant"  with  the  Nation  of  Islam,  citing  "a 
question  by  some  of  our  membership  about  the  NOI's  sensitivity  to  the  right  of  all 
people  and  all  religions  to  be  free  from  attacks,  vihfication  and  defamation."  That 
same  day,  the  Senate  voted  97-0  to  pass  a  resolution,  sponsored  by  Senators  John 
Danforth  (R.,  Mo.)  and  Edward  Kennedy  (D.,  Mass.),  condemning  the  Muhammad 
speech.  The  House  later  adopted  a  similar  resolution  by  a  vote  of  361-34,  as  did 
the  U.S.  Commission  on  Civil  Rights  by  a  unanimous  vote  of  its  eight-member 

If  the  day  before  the  Farrakhan  press  conference  offered  evidence  of  the  distanc- 
ing from  the  Nation  of  Islam  leader  for  which  the  Jewish  community  had  long  been 
arguing,  the  days  after  his  remarks  were  a  letdown.  Many  African-American  leaders 
declined  to  respond  to  Farrakhan's  espousal  of  hateful  views  as  forcefully  as  they 
had  those  of  Muhammad.  The  starkest  example  of  this  was  the  statement  of  Benja- 
min Chavis  that  the  NAACP  was  "satisfied"  with  Farrakhan's  disciplinary  action 
against  Muhammad.  "The  NAACP  is  prepared  to  beheve  Minister  Farrakhan's 
statement  that  he  is  neither  anti-Semitic  nor  racist,"  said  Chavis.  The  American 
Jewish  Committee,  in  an  unusually  direct  criticism  of  the  actions  of  the  leader  of 
another  civil-rights  organization,  sharply  criticized  this  statement,  asserting  that  the 
NAACP's  failure  to  repudiate  Farrakhan's  speech  "not  only  turns  a  deaf  ear  to 
bigotry,  but  also  seeks  to  rehabihtate  the  bigot." 

There  were,  to  be  sure,  contrary  voices  in  the  black  community,  as  witnessed  by 
those  who,  together  with  representatives  from  a  diverse  array  of  racial,  ethnic,  and 
religious  groups,  signed  on  to  an  ad,  placed  by  the  American  Jewish  Committee  in 
the  New  York  Times  on  February  25,  that  condemned  the  racism  of  the  NOI  and 
reminded  readers  that  "with  all  our  differences,  we  are  indeed  united,  as  Ameri- 

At  the  same  time,  some  within  the  Jewish  community  suggested  that  an  ongoing 
confrontation  with  the  black  community  over  Farrakhan  detracted  from  more 
productive  aspects  of  black-Jewish  relations,  such  as  coahtional  work  on  pressing 
public-policy  issues.  "We  should  not  allow  Farrakhan  to  define  relations  between 
Jews  and  African  Americans,"  commented  Karen  Senter,  co-director  of  national 
concerns  for  NJCRAC.  "It's  time  to  move  on." 

In  the  weeks  and  months  following  the  Farrakhan  press  conference  there  were 
ongoing  attempts  by  many  in  the  Jewish  community  to  do  exactly  that.  Leaders  of 
the  ADL  and  the  NAACP  met  for  two-and-a-half-hours  in  mid-February,  but 
emerged  with  little  to  say  except  that  both  organizations  wished  to  continue  to  work 
together  on  "issues  of  mutual  concern."  At  the  annual  plenum  of  NJCRAC  later 
that  month,  a  number  of  Jewish  communal  officials  questioned  the  wisdom  of 
pressing  black  leaders  to  condemn  Farrakhan,  since  blacks  who  denounced  anti- 
Semites  in  their  community  came  to  be  seen  as  bowing  to  outsiders  and  therefore 

126      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

lost  credibility.  Instead,  it  was  suggested,  it  might  be  best  not  to  raise  a  fuss  when 
mainstream  civil-rights  organizations  reached  out  to  Farrakhan,  but  instead  make 
the  point  that  the  relationships  of  those  organizations  with  the  Jewish  community 
were  long-standing  and  secure.  Rabbi  David  Saperstein,  director  of  the  Religious 
Action  Center  of  Reform  Judaism,  suggested  at  the  NJCRAC  plenum  that  it  was 
necessary  for  the  Jewish  community  "not  to  legitimize  and  give  attention  to 
propagators  of  hate,"  on  the  one  hand,  and  "not  allow  bigotry  to  be  sanctioned  by 
silence,"  on  the  other. 

The  Jewish  community  attempted  a  tempered  response  to  the  NAACP's  June 
1 994  African-American  leadership  summit  in  Baltimore.  Farrakhan  was  invited  by 
the  NAACP,  along  with  some  100  other  black  community,  political,  and  religious 
leaders,  to  participate  in  this  conference  on  strategies  for  economic  development, 
community  empowerment,  and  moral  and  spiritual  renewal  in  the  black  commu- 
nity. Jewish  groups  expressed  their  distress  at  the  inclusion  of  Farrakhan  in  this 
meeting  of  mainstream  black  leaders,  while  not  treating  his  inclusion  as  a  "line  in 
the  sand,"  the  crossing  of  which  would  damage  black-Jewish  relations. 

Nevertheless,  protests  were  held  outside  the  conference,  led  by  Michael  Lemer, 
editor  of  Tikkun  magazine.  The  tensions  between  blacks  and  Jews  arising  out  of 
Farrakhan's  continuing  leadership  role  did  not  go  unremarked  upon  at  the  Balti- 
more summit,  notwithstanding  that  Jewish  protests  of  Farrakhan's  participation  in 
the  conference  had  been  relatively  muted.  Reportedly,  the  word  "Jew"  was  not 
spoken  at  that  meeting,  but  there  were  allusions  by  summit  organizer  Benjamin 
Chavis  to  "intimidations  and  threats,"  and  Chavis  stated  at  a  concluding  press 
conference  that  "never  again  will  we  allow  any  external  forces  to  dictate  to  the 
African-American  community  who  we  will  meet  with."  Some  Jewish  observers  were 
disturbed  by  these  remarks,  reflecting  as  they  did  the  focus  on  an  external  "enemy," 
without  so  much  as  a  condemnation  of  all  bigotry  and  hate,  whatever  its  source. 

A  particular  sore  point  for  the  American  Jewish  community  was  the  ongoing 
assertion  by  the  Nation  of  Islam  that  Jews  had  played  a  disproportionate  role  in  the 
slave  trade,  a  claim  made  by  Muhammad  and  Farrakhan  in  their  speeches  and 
"documented"  in  The  Secret  Relationship  Between  Blacks  and  Jews,  a  334-page 
book  published  by  the  Nation  of  Islam  in  1991  and  cited  by  Farrakhan  at  his 
February  3  press  conference.  Substantial  evidence  was  adduced  by  a  number  of 
experts  to  disprove  the  NOI's  charges,  showing,  instead,  that  Jews  had  played  a  very 
minor  role  when  compared  with  their  Christian  counterparts.  Critics,  including 
prominent  black  leaders,  pointed  out  that  the  NOI's  claims  were  an  attempt  to 
distort  history  so  as  to  suit  the  movement's  political  agenda.  Nevertheless,  the 
libelous  charges  had,  by  all  reports,  gained  an  unfortunate  level  of  legitimacy  within 
the  black  community,  even  influencing  many  unaffiliated  with  Farrakhan. 

The  104th  Congress  brought  with  it  renewed  attention  to  the  security-services 
business  run  by  Nation  of  Islam-affiliated  organizations,  serving  federally  funded 
public-housing  projects,  with  contracts  valued  at  an  estimated  $10  million.  Several 
Jewish  organizations  had,  without  success,  earlier  called  for  the  U.S.  Housing  and 

U.S.     NATIONAL    AFFAIRS      /      127 

Urban  Development  Department  (HUD)  to  investigate  whether  these  NOI  security 
agencies  discriminated  against  whites  and  Jews  in  their  hiring  practices  and  prosely- 
tized on  the  premises  of  the  housing  projects.  In  January  1995,  apparently  respond- 
ing to  pressure  from  the  new  leadership  in  Congress  and  the  ongoing  urgings  of 
Jewish  organizations,  HUD  secretary  Henry  Cisneros  announced  that  there  would 
be  an  investigation  to  identify  any  such  discriminatory  conduct. 

The  initial  results  of  that  investigation,  announced  by  Cisneros  at  an  early  March 
oversight  hearing  by  a  House  banking  subcommittee,  far  from  satisfied  those  Jewish 
organizations  or  several  of  the  members  on  the  subcommittee,  notably  Rep.  Peter 
King  (R.,  N.Y.).  Cisneros  asserted  that  his  department's  inquiry  had  found  no 
evidence  of  wrongdoing  and  that  continuing  the  investigation  "would  simply  be 
using  government  resources  to  persecute"  the  Nation  of  Islam,  and  questioned 
whether  HUD  had  authority  to  deal  with  claims  of  employment  discrimination  by 
the  security  services.  Jewish  groups  testifying  at  the  hearing  diflFered  with  the  assess- 
ment, asserting,  in  the  words  of  American  Jewish  Congress  counsel  Marc  Stern,  that 
this  is  "an  HUD  responsibility"  and  that  "HUD  did  not  ask  the  right  questions." 
Secretary  Cisneros  backed  oflF  somewhat  from  the  positions  asserted  at  the  hearing 
when,  in  communications  with  the  World  Jewish  Congress  and  B'nai  B'rith  approxi- 
mately one  month  later,  he  denounced  Farrakhan's  injection  of  hatred  into  the 
"national  discourse"  and  pronounced  HUD's  investigation  of  alleged  violations  of 
contracts  with  NOI  security  agencies  to  be  "ongoing."  It  was  also  reported  at  about 
the  same  time  that  the  Department  of  Health  and  Human  Services  had  begun  its 
own  investigation  into  allegations  of  patient  discrimination  at  the  NOI-Hnked  Abun- 
dant Life  CHnic,  an  AIDS  treatment  facihty  in  Washington,  D.C.,  that  received 
federal  funding  through  contracts  with  the  District  of  Columbia. 


The  tensions  between  the  Jewish  and  black  communities  aroused  by  Farrakhan's 
continued,  even  increased,  prominence  threatened  to  eclipse  other,  more  concilia- 
tory voices  and  the  ongoing  day-to-day  cooperation  between  Jews  and  blacks  on  a 
variety  of  issues  at  national  and  local  levels. 

Hugh  Price,  who  became  president  of  the  National  Urban  League  in  July  1994, 
began  his  tenure  by  immediately  praising  Jews  as  "long-standing  allies"  of  the  black 
community  and  by  stressing  that  a  weakened  economy  and  a  lack  of  communal 
infrastructure — not  white  racism — were  the  major  obstacles  to  progress  for  poor 
blacks.  While  calling  for  measures  to  promote  economic  self-sufficiency  that,  at  least 
in  broad  strokes,  recalled  some  of  the  themes  struck  by  Farrakhan,  Price  clearly 
referred  to  Farrakhan  in  emphasizing  the  importance  of  denouncing  racism,  what- 
ever its  source.  Price  diflFered,  however,  with  those  who  suggested  that  blacks  ought 
not  to  be  engaged  in  dialogue  with  all  segments  of  their  community,  however 
objectionable  some  of  their  views.  Price's  appointment  and  the  themes  he  struck, 
notwithstanding  the  obvious  disagreement  by  many  in  the  Jewish  community  on  the 

128      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

issue  of  meeting  with  Farrakhan,  drew  praise  and  support  from  Jewish  organiza- 
tional leaders. 

Among  his  other  outreach  eflForts,  Price  met  in  October  with  the  National  Jewish 
Community  Relations  Advisory  Council,  at  which  time  he  stressed  his  "agenda  of 
racial  inclusion"  and  called  for  focus  on  public  education  and  the  needs  of  young 
people  as  an  area  in  which  NJCRAC  member  agencies  and  the  Urban  League  could 
work  together.  He  expressed  his  hope  that  he  would  "not  have  to  make  a  career  out 
of"  talking  about  Farrakhan. 

Jesse  Jackson  paid  a  six-day  visit  to  Israel  in  April  1994  during  which  he  was 
greeted  with  significantly  greater  warmth  by  Israelis  and  representatives  of  Ameri- 
can Jewish  organizations  than  had  been  the  case  with  his  disastrous  trip  15  years 
earlier.  The  1979  trip,  which  included  a  snub  by  Menachem  Begin  and  a  famous 
embrace  between  Jackson  and  Yasir  Arafat,  contributed  greatly  to  the  sense  of 
distrust  that  many  in  the  Jewish  community  felt  about  Jackson  for  a  number  of 
years.  In  contrast,  in  1994  he  was  afforded  the  trappings  of  an  official  visit  by  both 
the  Israeli  government  and  its  now  recognized  negotiating  partner,  the  Palestine 
Liberation  Organization.  For  Israel,  Jackson's  visit  presented  an  important  opportu- 
nity to  cultivate  a  relationship  with  one  of  the  best-known  figures  in  the  increasingly 
important  black  leadership.  For  Jackson,  the  trip  provided  an  opportunity  to  claim 
a  leadership  role  in  moving  the  Mideast  peace  process  forward,  and  to  lay  another 
building  block  in  the  more  positive  relationship  with  American  Jews  that  he  had 
established  in  recent  years. 

American  Jewish  groups  distanced  themselves  from  the  NAACP  in  the  first  part 
of  1 994,  largely  because  of  executive  director  Benjamin  Chavis's  outreach  to  Farra- 
khan. Relations  improved,  however,  after  Chavis  was  ousted  by  the  agency's  board 
of  directors  in  August,  with  questions  about  his  handling  of  the  NAACP's  financial 
affairs  as  the  precipitating  factor. 

This  brightening  outlook  was  reinforced  in  March  1995  with  the  election  of 
Myrlie  Evers- Williams  as  NAACP  chairwoman.  Evers- Williams,  widow  of  slain 
1960s  civil-rights  leader  Medgar  Evers  and  widely  seen  as  a  proponent  of  close 
cooperation  between  the  Jewish  and  black  communities,  narrowly  defeated  Dr 
William  Gibson  in  his  bid  for  reelection.  Gibson  had  brought  Chavis  on  as  executive 
director  and  sided  with  him  in  the  vote  that  led  to  the  latter  official's  ouster 
Nevertheless,  Rabbi  David  Saperstein,  director  of  the  Religious  Action  Center  of 
Reform  Judaism  and  a  member  of  the  NAACP  board,  took  pains  to  assert  that  the 
March  vote  had  not  been  cast  on  the  question  of  future  relations  with  the  Jewish 
community.  "Dr.  Gibson  was  always  very  friendly  with  the  Jewish  community,"  he 
said.  "These  were  not  policy  issues.  These  were  internal  administrative  issues," 
largely  having  to  do  with  the  need  to  repair  the  NAACP's  disastrous  financial 

Not  everyone  agreed  on  the  road  to  follow  in  dealing  with  the  tensions  between 
the  black  and  Jewish  communities.  Murray  Friedman,  director  of  the  American 
Jewish  Committee's  Philadelphia  chapter  and  a  former  U.S.  civil  rights  commis- 

U.S.     NATIONAL    AFFAIRS      /      129 

sioner,  argued  at  an  intergroup  conference  held  in  New  York  in  September  1994 — 
anticipating  themes  articulated  in  a  book  he  would  pubHsh  in  1995  (What  Went 
Wrong?  The  Creation  and  Collapse  of  the  Black-Jewish  Alliance) — for  a  "cooling- 
off"  period  of  "separation"  between  the  communities.  Asserting  that  the  "black- 
Jewish  alliance  that  once  existed  is  gone,"  he  suggested  that  blacks  and  Jews  should 
simply  work  jointly  on  issues  of  common  interest  and  agree  to  disagree  on  other 
issues.  This  approach  was  rejected  by  the  Reverend  Calvin  Butts,  senior  minister 
of  Harlem's  Abyssinian  Baptist  Church;  he  argued  against  the  notion  that  there  is 
"strong  anti-Semitism  among  African  Americans"  and  urged  not  disengagement 
but  joint  efforts  to  improve  social  conditions. 

A  study  conducted  by  the  American  Jewish  Congress  in  1994  indicated  that  at 
the  congressional  level  black  and  Jewish  members  remained  closely  aligned  on  key 
issues.  The  voting  patterns  of  the  39  members  of  the  Congressional  Black  Caucus 
and  the  32  Jewish  members  of  the  House  of  Representatives  on  issues  such  as  foreign 
aid,  public  funding  of  private  schools,  and  school  prayer  showed  that  "Jewish 
members  of  Congress  were  far  more  likely  to  support  votes  by  the  [Caucus]  than 
the  other  members  of  the  [House]."  And,  similarly,  black  members  were  more  Hkely 
than  members  in  general  to  support  the  positions  of  the  "Jewish  community."  Jesse 
Jackson,  speaking  at  the  press  conference  announcing  this  report,  stressed  the 
importance  of  the  black- Jewish  coalition  outside  the  halls  of  Congress  as  well, 
asserting  that  David  Duke  would  have  won  his  1991  race  for  governor  of  Louisiana 
if  not  for  the  "black-Jewish  coalition." 


While  the  black  and  Jewish  communities  continued  to  cooperate  in  many  areas, 
the  Jewish  community  was  far  from  of  one  mind  on  two  issues  viewed  by  many 
African-Americans  as  crucial  to  their  interests:  redistricting  and  affirmative  action. 

In  redistricting  decisions  handed  down  in  1994  and  1995,  in  both  instances  on  the 
last  day  of  the  term,  the  U.S.  Supreme  Court  cast  in  doubt  the  practice  of  dehneating 
election  districts  so  as  to  promote  minority  representation.  Those  decisions  brought 
a  mixed  reaction  from  the  Jewish  community,  with  some  supporting  limitations  on 
race-based  districting  practices  while  others  agreed  with  Justice  Ruth  Bader  Gins- 
burg's  assertion  in  the  1995  case  that  the  Court  had  imposed  an  unmanageable 
standard  that  would  spawn  endless  challenges  to  state  districting  decisions. 

As  with  developments  on  redistricting,  the  Jewish  community  was  divided  over 
the  implications  of  the  Supreme  Court's  June  1995  ruHng  that  racially  conscious 
federal  affirmative-action  programs  are  presumably  unconstitutional  unless  the  gov- 
ernment is  able  to  show  a  "compelling  state  interest"  for  the  challenged  practice. 
Rabbi  David  Saperstein,  director  of  the  Religious  Action  Center  of  Reform  Judaism, 
termed  the  decision  "disappointing,"  while  noting  that  the  import  of  the  case  was 
"an  affirmation  of  affirmative  action,  but  a  limitation  of  the  circumstances  where  it 
is  appropriate  to  apply  it."  The  ADL  saw  the  decision  as  consistent  with  its  position. 

130      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH     YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

that  "government  preferences  or  benefits  based  upon  race,  religious  beliefs  or  ethnic 
origin  are  as  threatening  to  the  American  ideal  as  the  historic  discriminatory  pra^ 
tices  used  to  justify  those  preferences." 

In  both  the  redistricting  and  the  affirmative-action  cases.the  close  decisions  of  the 
Court  and  the  lack  of  clarity  about  the  types  of  practices  that  would  be  upheld  left 
the  door  open  for  continuing  litigation. 


Interactions  between  Jewish  and  black  students  on  high-school  and  college  cam- 
puses were  not  all  confrontational.  At  a  grass-roots  level,  nearly  200  teenagers  from 
around  the  world,  including  90  Jewish  high-school  students  attending  under  the 
banner  of  the  B'nai  B'rith  Youth  Organization  (BBYO),  attended  a  gathering  in 
Washington  in  February  1994  to  promote  understanding  and  tolerance  among 
various  ethnic  groups.  The  convocation,  taking  place  under  the  banner  of  "Stop  the 
Hate"  and  initiated  by  BBYO,  conducted  interviews  about  prejudice  with  members 
of  Congress,  spoke  out  against  hate  in  various  public  locations,  and  attended  a 
discussion  about  the  ethnic  conflict  in  Bosnia. 

Similar  efforts  by  young  people  at  intergroup  understanding  took  place  through- 
out the  year.  In  March  1994,  12  Jewish  undergraduates  from  Yeshiva  University 
and  12  black  undergraduates  from  the  City  College  of  New  York  met  to  exchange 
views  on  the  recent  tensions  between  the  black  and  Jewish  communities.  In  the 
course  of  the  discussion,  some  of  the  CCNY  students  expressed  disagreement  with 
the  ideas  presented  by  Khalid  Muhammad  at  various  college  campuses  and  rejected 
the  notion  that  he  spoke  for  the  African-American  community.  Students  from  both 
schools  agreed  on  the  need  for  further  communication  and  for  blacks  and  Jews  to 
learn  more  about  each  other's  histories. 

A  joint  effort  of  the  United  Negro  College  Fund  (UNCF)  and  several  Jewish 
educational  institutions,  including  the  World  Jewish  Congress,  the  World  Zionist 
Organization,  and  the  Israeli  Consulate  Office  of  Academic  Aff"airs  in  the  United 
States,  was  undertaken  to  implement  an  exchange  program  between  Jewish  and 
black  college  students.  The  program  was  carried  out  during  the  1994-95  academic 
year  through  a  number  of  components:  student  summer  and  full-semester  ex- 
changes; a  faculty  exchange;  expansion  of  the  National  Center  for  Black-Jewish 
Relations  at  Dillard  University  in  New  Orleans;  a  UNCF  mission  to  Israel;  and  a 
college-level  "Operation  Understanding,"  a  long-standing  program  under  which 
black  and  Jewish  students  travel  together  to  Africa  and  Israel. 

Asian-Jewish  Relations 

Ongoing  efforts  to  maintain,  and  expand  upon,  relations  between  Jewish  and 
other  ethnic  groups  continued  throughout  the  year,  with  trips  by  leaders  of  non- 
Jewish  groups  to  Israel  often  a  focal  point  for  building  understanding  and  relation- 

U.S.     NATIONAL     AFFAIRS      /       131 

ships.  Thus,  in  February  1994,  1 1  Asian-Americans  of  varying  backgrounds,  includ- 
ing Chinese,  Korean,  Japanese,  and  Vietnamese,  traveled  to  Israel  under  the  aus- 
pices of  Project  Interchange  and  the  Pacific  Rim  Institute,  divisions  of  the  American 
Jewish  Committee.  Jews  and  Asian-Americans  had  long  been  coalition  partners  on 
such  issues  as  immigration,  responses  to  hate  crimes,  and  civil  rights,  and  it  was 
hoped  that  this  might  be  expanded  to  support  by  Asian-Americans  for  Israel-Asian 
political  and  trade  relations. 

Interreligious  Relations 


In  a  dramatic  development  in  the  evolution  of  Christian  teachings  about  Jews  and 
Judaism,  the  Evangelical  Lutheran  Church  in  America  announced  on  April  18, 
1994,  that  it  had  formally  rejected  the  anti-Semitic  writings  of  Martin  Luther,  the 
communion's  founder.  The  Evangelical  Lutheran  Church  is  the  largest  branch  of 
the  Lutheran  denomination  in  America. 


As  relations  between  the  Christian  Coalition  and  its  supporters,  on  the  one  hand, 
and  the  organized  Jewish  community,  on  the  other,  continued  to  simmer,  represen- 
tatives of  Jewish  and  evangelical  Christian  organizations  met  in  Washington  soon 
after  the  1994  elections.  The  meeting,  convened  by  Yechiel  Eckstein,  president  of 
the  International  Fellowship  of  Christians  and  Jews,  was  intended  as  a  vehicle  "to 
shatter  stereotypes."  "There  is  a  common  ground,"  he  said,  "even  on  moral  values 
between  evangelicals  and  Jews  which  hasn't  been  discerned  yet." 

The  delicate  nature  of  relations  between  evangelical  Christians  and  Jews  was 
underlined,  however,  when,  in  March  1995,  the  National  Jewish  Coalition  (NJC) 
pulled  out  of  a  conference  on  Israel  scheduled  for  May  on  the  grounds  that  several 
of  the  Christian  groups  participating  "have  as  their  chief  purpose  the  conversion  of 
Jews  to  Christianity."  The  action  of  the  coalition,  an  organization  representing 
Jewish  Republicans,  followed  withdrawal  by  the  Israeli  embassy  from  the  same 
Washington-based  conference.  "Their  active  support  of  missionizing,"  wrote  NJC 
executive  director  Matthew  Brooks,  "is,  in  practice,  a  determined  effort  to  destroy 
the  Jewish  people.  I  cannot  in  good  conscience  participate  in  an  event,  even  one 
dedicated  to  support  for  Israel,  which  includes  organizations  whose  primary  goal 
I  vehemently  oppose."  Rabbi  Daniel  Lapin,  on  the  other  hand,  director  of  the 
conservative  group  Toward  Tradition,  indicated  that  he  had  no  concern  in  working 
in  common  cause  with  missionizers,  asserting  that  "to  whatever  extent  they  succeed, 
the  indictment  is  not  on  them,  but  on  us." 

132      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

A  dispute  between  Jewish  Holocaust  survivors  and  the  Church  of  Jesus  Christ 
of  Latter-day  Saints  was  resolved  when,  in  April  1995,  the  church  agreed  to  halt 
its  practice  of  posthumously  baptizing  Jews.  Mormon  tenets  call  upon  that  faith's 
adherents  to  research  their  own  ancestry  and  to  have  their  forebears  baptized;  some 
adherents  have  gone  further,  however,  collecting  the  names  of,  and  then  baptizing, 
prominent  people  and  Holocaust  victims.  Ernest  Michel,  chairman  of  the  American 
Gathering  of  Jewish  Holocaust  Survivors  and  a  son  of  Jews  murdered  at  Auschwitz, 
approached  the  Mormon  leadership  upon  discovering  that  his  parents  had  been 
listed  as  members  of  the  Mormon  faith  in  this  fashion.  With  apologies  for  any 
unintended  offense  to  Holocaust  survivors,  the  church  agreed  not  only  to  cease  the 
practice  but  also  to  expunge  from  its  records  the  names  of  all  Jews  who  were 
"improperly  included." 


In  a  series  of  interviews  and  public  statements.  Pope  John  Paul  II  placed  Catholic- 
Jewish  relations  high  on  his  ecumenical  agenda,  terming  Jews  "elder  brothers  in  the 
faith"  to  Catholics  and  attacking  anti-Semitism  as  "anti-Christian."  While  building 
on  the  foundations  laid  down  by  the  Second  Vatican  Council  some  30  years  earlier, 
the  pope  broke  significant  new  ground  when,  in  an  interview  given  shortly  before 
Easter  1994,  he  recognized  the  right  of  Jews  to  settle  in  Israel — this  following  only 
a  few  months  after  the  Vatican  and  Israel  established  diplomatic  relations.  In 
addition,  1994  saw  the  first  official  Vatican  commemoration  of  the  Holocaust,  in  the 
form  of  a  Yom  Hashoah  concert  on  April  7  in  Rome,  attended  by  dignitaries  from 
around  the  world.  Rabbi  A.  James  Rudin,  director  of  interreligious  affairs  for  the 
American  Jewish  Committee,  hailed  these  developments  as  having  removed  what 
had  been  stumbling  blocks  in  the  relations  between  Catholics  and  Jews.  What  is 
significant.  Rabbi  Rudin  commented,  is  that  the  pope  is  "not  talking  to  Jews  about 
the  Jewish  people;  he's  speaking  to  Catholics." 

In  February  1995,  Pope  John  Paul  II  met  in  private  audience  with  leaders  of  the 
American  Jewish  Committee,  who  urged  that  he  issue  a  formal  encyclical  against 
anti-Semitism.  At  the  meeting,  which  took  place  in  commemoration  of  the  30th 
anniversary  of  the  Second  Vatican  Council's  "Nostra  Aetate"  declaration,  AJCom- 
mittee  president  Robert  S.  Rifkind  expressed  gratification  for  the  strides  made  since 
1965  in  Jewish-Catholic  relations,  with  hopes  that  the  two  communities  would 
continue  to  build  "on  the  foundations  already  laid." 


In  February  1994,  Rabbi  Arthur  Schneier,  head  of  the  Appeal  of  Conscience 
Foundation,  brought  together  a  convocation  in  New  York  of  Jewish,  Eastern  Ortho- 

U.S.     NATIONAL    AFFAIRS      /      133 

dox,  Roman  Catholic,  and  Muslim  clergy  for  an  interfaith  Conference  on  Peace  and 
Tolerance,  with  a  major  focus  on  the  civil  war  in  the  former  Yugoslavia.  The 
convocation  was  cosponsored  by  the  Ecumenical  Patriarchate  and  Bartholomew  I, 
leader  of  the  Eastern  Orthodox  Church.  Although  reportedly  faced  with  significant 
division  on  a  number  of  issues,  the  conference  did  issue  a  statement  condemning 
"ethnic  cleansing"  and  rejecting  "the  concept  that  it  was  possible  to  justify  one's 
actions  in  any  armed  conflict  in  the  name  of  God." 

A  series  of  interfaith  initiatives  followed  the  Hebron  massacre  the  same  month. 
Interfaith  services  were  held  at  a  church,  a  synagogue,  and  a  mosque  in  New  York, 
and  in  Los  Angeles  Jewish  and  Arab  organizations  held  a  joint  memorial  service 
and  press  conference.  Jewish  students  at  colleges  throughout  the  nation  condemned 
the  killings  and  held  interfaith  services  and  vigils  with  Muslim  students  and  others. 
The  Reform  movement  sent  out  packets  to  its  member  congregations  urging,  among 
other  things,  that  Jewish  leaders  make  condolence  calls  to  Muslim  leaders  and  write 
letters  to  local  newspapers  condemning  the  attack. 

In  a  further  development  in  Jewish-Muslim  relations,  a  ground-breaking  confer- 
ence on  "Women,  Families  and  Children  in  Islamic  and  Judaic  Traditions"  was  held 
in  Denver  in  late  October  1994.  Although  the  conference  was  framed  as  an  academic 
event,  broader  issues  of  intergroup  relations  were  addressed.  The  conference  was 
organized  by  Rabbi  Rudin  of  the  AJCommittee  and  Salam  al-Maryati,  director  of 
the  Los  Angeles-based  Muslim  Public  Affairs  Council.  As  part  of  the  program, 
participants  began  to  explore  public-policy  issues  of  common  concern  on  which 
their  respective  communities  might  work  together. 

Although  interest  in  building  a  relationship  had  increased  with  developments  in 
the  Middle  East  peace  process,  there  were  still  tensions  arising  out  of  differences  on 
fundamental  issues.  Muslims  viewed  government  investigations  of  American  Mus- 
lim groups  for  possible  links  to  Mideast  terrorism,  with  the  intent  of  cutting  off  the 
flow  of  American  funds  to  Hamas,  as  a  form  of  scapegoating.  American  Jewish 
groups  largely  supported  those  efforts,  while  urging  that  they  should  be  undertaken 
with  due  regard  for  civil  liberties  and  due  process  concerns. 


Legislative  Activity 

In  1994  the  organized  Jewish  community  continued  its  long-standing  battle  to 
preserve  separation  of  church  and  state.  Dissenting  positions  were  taken  by  the 
Orthodox,  not  on  the  broad  commitment  to  that  principle  but  on  certain  specific 
applications,  in  particular  the  Jewish  community's  opposition  to  federally  funded 
school  vouchers  for  parochial  and  other  private  schools. 

Throughout  much  of  the  year,  Jewish  organizations  worked  together  with  such 
coalition  partners  as  the  Baptist  Joint  Committee  and  Americans  United  for  Separa- 

134      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

tion  of  Church  and  State  to  oppose  efforts,  spearheaded  by  Sen.  Jesse  Helms  (R., 
N.C.),  to  add  a  school-prayer  amendment  to  major  education  legislation.  The 
amendment  would  have  subjected  schools  to  cutoffs  of  their  federal  funding  if  they 
did  not  protect  the  rights  of  students  voluntarily  to  engage  in  "constitutionally 
protected  prayer."  After  an  initial  defeat — the  Senate  adopted  the  Helms  amend- 
ment in  March  as  part  of  the  "Goals  2000"  education  bill — the  coalition  succeeded 
in  blocking  the  initiative  from  being  enacted  into  law.  "Goals  2000"  emerged  from 
conference  without  any  school-prayer  amendment,  and  the  education  appropria- 
tions legislation  enacted  into  law  later  in  the  year  included,  instead,  a  far  less 
problematic  alternative  sponsored  by  Sen.  Nancy  Kassebaum  (R.,  Kan.).  (The 
Kassebaum  language  subjects  a  school  to  a  funds  cutoff  only  if  it  violates  an  actual 
court  order  with  respect  to  religious  expression.) 

Less  threatening  but  still  problematic  was  the  Senate's  passage  in  February,  by 
a  vote  of  78-8,  of  a  resolution  supporting  a  moment  of  silence  during  the  school 
day  that  would  allow  students  a  moment  for  voluntary  prayer.  No  action  was  taken 
in  the  House  on  this  initiative,  which  was,  in  any  event,  a  nonbinding  resolution. 
Richard  Foltin,  legislative  director  and  counsel  for  the  American  Jewish  Commit- 
tee, suggested  that  the  provision  served  little  purpose  as,  in  any  event,  "there  is  no 
serious  question  of  a  school's  right  to  provide  for  a  truly  voluntary  moment  of 
silence  and  of  a  student's  right  to  engage  in  nondisruptive  prayer  during  such  a 
moment,  or,  in  fact,  at  any  other  time  during  the  school  day."  Rabbi  Abraham 
Shemtov,  national  director  of  the  American  Friends  of  Lubavitch,  on  the  other 
hand,  endorsed  the  initiative.  "A  moment  of  silence  brings  about  the  awareness  in 
children  of  the  existence  of  the  Supreme  Being,"  he  said. 

An  initiative  introduced  in  both  the  103rd  and  104th  Congresses  by  the  bipartisan 
team  of  Senators  Joseph  Lieberman  (D.,  Conn.)  and  Dan  Coats  (R.,  Ind.)  would 
allow  federal  funds  to  be  used  to  support  parochial  and  other  private  schools  on  a 
pilot-project  basis.  Opposed  by  most  Jewish  groups,  among  others,  as  a  violation  of 
separation  of  church  and  state  and  a  threat  to  the  public-school  system,  it  was 
supported  by  the  Orthodox  Jewish  community  as  an  important  resource  to  enable 
children  to  attend  religious  schools.  The  bill  failed  to  win  approval  in  the  1994 
session  and  had  not  moved  by  midyear  1995. 

As  the  1994  congressional  year  closed  out,  and  even  before  the  election  returns 
had  come  in,  advocates  of  separation  of  church  and  state  were  concerned  about  the 
future  of  their  cause.  After  all,  even  though  ultimately  defeated  in  both  cases,  the 
Helms  school-prayer  provision  was  attached  to  the  "Goals  2000"  education  bill— 
in  a  Democratic  Senate — by  a  75-22  vote,  and  was  accepted  as  part  of  another 
education  bill  in  the  Democrat-controlled  House  by  a  landslide  vote  of  345-64. 
These  votes  suggested  that  "we  have  a  lot  to  do  as  far  as  educating  members  of 
Congress  about  school  prayer  in  particular  and  the  separation  of  church  and  state 
in  general,"  commented  Mark  Pelavin,  Washington  representative  of  the  American 
Jewish  Congress. 

That  work  was  clearly  expanded  by  the  election  results.  Within  days  of  the 

U.S.     NATIONAL     AFFAIRS      /       135 

dection,  soon-to-be  House  Speaker  Newt  Gingrich  alarmed  the  Jewish  community 
when  he  indicated  that  he  favored  a  vote  by  July  1995  on  an  amendment  to  the 
Constitution  permitting  officially  sanctioned  school  prayer.  President  Clinton 
touched  oflFa  firestorm  when,  later  in  November,  he  made  a  statement  that  appeared 
to  express  a  willingness  to  consider  a  school-prayer  constitutional  amendment. 
Shortly  thereafter,  the  president  clarified  that  he  was  against  any  school-prayer 
amendment  to  the  Constitution,  although  he  was  prepared  to  consider  legislation 
providing  for  a  neutral  moment  of  silence — a  position  he  had  long  held. 

By  the  end  of  November,  the  organized  Jewish  community  had  joined  together 
with  a  broad-ranging  group  of  religious  and  civil-liberties  organizations  to  form  the 
Coalition  for  Preservation  of  Religious  Liberty,  the  mission  of  which  was  to  oppose 
the  proposed  amendment.  The  coalition,  co-chaired  by  Rabbi  David  Saperstein  of 
the  Religious  Action  Center  of  Reform  Judaism  and  the  Reverend  Brent  Walker  of 
the  Baptist  Joint  Committee,  included  organizational  representation  from  all  the 
major  movements  of  American  Judaism,  including  the  Union  of  Orthodox  Jewish 
Congregations.  Agudath  Israel  of  America  also  spoke  out  in  opposition  to  a  school- 
prayer  amendment  to  the  Constitution. 

As  the  104th  Congress  began,  the  coalition,  with  Jewish  groups  continuing  to  play 
an  important  leadership  role,  urgently  began  its  task  of  trying  to  keep  on  top  of  what 
the  school-prayer  initiative  would  look  like  and  of  canvassing  the  new  Congress  in 
a  search  for  allies  on  both  sides  of  the  aisle.  The  new  year  had  hardly  begun  when 
Rep.  Jon  Fox  (R.,  Pa.),  the  only  Jewish  freshman,  announced  that  while  he  would 
support  a  moment  of  silence  in  schools,  he  would  oppose  amending  the  Constitution 
to  allow  school  prayer. 

The  new  Congress  saw  several  school-prayer  initatives  put  forward,  but  given  the 
other  priorities  established  by  the  Republican  majority  in  the  "Contract  with  Amer- 
ica" and  the  opposition  of  a  number  of  Republican  moderates  to  any  quick  action 
in  this  area,  it  seemed  unlikely  that  there  would  be  early  votes  on  any  of  these 
initiatives.  Perhaps  most  crucially,  early  in  1995  reports  began  to  filter  out  that 
proponents  of  a  constitutional  amendment  were  rethinking  exactly  what  form  an 
amendment  ought  to  take. 

That  rethinking  received  a  public  airing  when  the  Christian  Coalition  included 
as  an  item  in  its  ten-point  "Contract  with  the  American  Family"  a  call  for  a 
"religious  equality  amendment,"  and  no  reference  to  a  "school-prayer  amendment." 
The  premise  of  this  amendment  was  that  religion  had  somehow  become  the  subject 
of  unfair  discrimination,  both  in  the  courts  and  by  virtue  of  government  practice, 
and  that  the  drastic  measure  of  amending  the  Constitution  was  necessary  to  alleviate 
the  situation.  The  proposed  amendment  would  allow  for  prayer  at  graduations,  for 
student-led  prayers  in  schools,  and  for  religious  symbols  in  public  places,  protection 
of  other  forms  of  religious  speech,  and  equivalent  funding  of  sectarian  and  secular 
institutions.  By  mid-1995  the  "religious  equality  amendment"  remained  a  work  in 
progress.  Although  there  were  no  votes  in  either  house,  whether  on  the  floor  or  in 
committee — and,  in  fact,  not  yet  even  a  proposed  text — initial  hearings  were  held 

136      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

on  "religious  liberty  issues"  before  the  House  Judiciary  Subcommittee  in  June  I995, 
with  more  to  follow.  The  hearings  demonstrated  that  advocates  of  the  amendment 
were  at  loggerheads  over  what  its  final  language  should  be  and  even,  to  some  extent, 
over  just  what  aspects  of  existing  church-state  doctrine  ought  to  be  revisited. 

If  the  proponents  of  the  amendment  had  not  come  to  agreement  by  midyear,  there 
was,  for  once,  strong  consensus  virtually  across  the  spectrum  of  the  Jewish  commu- 
nity that  the  "religious  equality  amendment"  was  a  dangerous  and  unnecessary 
initiative  packaged  with  an  attractive  name.  Thus,  even  though  it  opposed  much  of 
the  rest  of  the  Jewish  community  in  its  support  for  vouchers,  the  Union  of  Orthodox 
Jewish  Congregations  joined  with  its  coreligionists  in  opposition  to  the  constitu- 
tional initiative.  And,  for  the  most  part,  those  who  did  not  join  in  the  opposition, 
such  as  Agudath  Israel  of  America,  took  a  "wait-and-see"  attitude  rather  than 
weigh  in  on  the  side  of  the  Christian  Coalition. 

Judicial  Action 

In  March  1994,  on  one  of  the  middle  days  of  Passover,  the  U.S.  Supreme  Court 
heard  arguments  in  Board  of  Education  ofKiryas  Joel  v.  Grumet.  The  result  of  this 
case  was  somewhat  comforting  to  the  "strict"  church-state  separationists,  but  it  also 
demonstrated  the  thin  margin  by  which  any  Court  decision  in  this  area  was  likely 
to  be  rendered.  In  addition,  the  case  demonstrated  the  divisions  within  the  Jewish 
community  as  to  the  principles  on  which  these  issues  ought  to  be  decided. 

The  case  involved  a  challenge  to  New  York  State's  creation  of  a  special  school 
district,  its  borders  congruent  with  those  of  the  existing  village  of  Kiryas  Joel,  in 
order  to  provide  remedial  educational  services  for  handicapped  Hassidic  children. 
The  school  district  was  created  because  the  state  was  prohibited  by  Supreme  Court 
precedent  from  providing  the  federally  funded  remedial  services  on  the  premises  of 
Kiryas  Joel's  parochial  schools,  even  while  the  Hassidic  parents  asserted  that  they 
could  not  send  their  children  to  nearby  public  schools  for  these  services  because  they 
believed  the  children  would  be  harassed. 

The  state  and  the  Satmar  Hassidim,  represented  by  Washington  lawyer  Nathan 
Lewin,  argued  that  creation  of  the  school  district  was  a  constitutionally  appropriate 
accommodation  of  the  needs  of  a  particular  religious  community.  The  two  taxpayers 
bringing  the  challenge  countered,  and  the  New  York  Court  of  Appeals  held,  that 
the  state's  action  had  created  a  "religiously  segregated  environment"  that  violated 
the  constitutional  prohibition  on  government  establishment  of  religion,  and  that 
there  were  other,  more  appropriate,  means  of  accommodating  the  concerns  of  the 
Hassidic  parents.  Orthodox  groups,  including  Agudath  Israel  of  America  and  the 
Union  of  Orthodox  Jewish  Congregations  of  America,  filed  friend-of-the-court 
briefs  in  support  of  the  district's  creation,  with  briefs  on  the  other  side  filed  by  the 
American  Jewish  Committee,  the  American  Jewish  Congress,  and  the  Religious 
Action  Center  of  Reform  Judaism,  among  others. 

As  the  Supreme  Court  neared  the  end  of  its  term  in  June  1994,  it  issued  a  6-3 

U.S.     NATIONAL    AFFAIRS      /      137 

ruling  sustaining  the  lower  courts'  finding  that  the  Kiryas  Joel  school  district  was 
unconstitutional.  Most  Jewish  groups  other  than  the  Orthodox  hailed  the  ruling. 
Even  so,  those  claiming  victory  acknowledged  that  the  problem  yet  remained  as  to 
how  to  accommodate  the  needs  of  the  Hassidic  children  in  a  fashion  that  would  not 
violate  separation  of  church  and  state. 

Chief  Justice  William  Rehnquist  and  Justices  Antonin  Scalia  and  Clarence 
Thomas  dissented  from  the  majority  opinion  and  would  have  ruled  in  favor  of  the 
school  district.  Their  opinions  reiterated  a  theme  from  earlier  cases — their  view  that 
it  was  time  to  revisit  a  church-state  doctrine  that  they  viewed  as  hostile  to  religion. 
Of  the  remaining  justices,  four — Justices  Harry  Blackmun,  John  Paul  Stevens, 
Sandra  Day  O'Connnor,  and  Ruth  Bader  Ginsburg — joined  in  the  majority  opinion 
of  Justice  David  Souter  that  struck  down  the  district.  They  did  so,  however,  on  a 
relatively  narrow  basis,  that  civil  authority  may  not  be  delegated  on  the  basis  of 
religious  criteria.  Broader  questions  with  respect  to  traditional  church-state  analysis 
remained  unresolved.  The  concurring  opinion  of  Justice  Anthony  Kennedy,  the 
remaining  justice  in  the  majority,  revealed  that  he  had  voted  to  strike  down  the 
district  not  out  of  Establishment  Clause  concerns,  but  because  he  opposed  the 
creation  of  the  district  as  equivalent  to  the  creation  of  election  districts  on  the  basis 
of  race,  a  practice  whose  constitutionality  he  questioned. 

Justice  Souter's  opinion  for  the  Court,  stressing  that  the  ruUng  did  not  prevent 
appropriate  accommodations  of  religious  practice,  set  forth  a  number  of  ways  in 
which  the  Hassidic  children  might  receive  the  remedial  services  without  the  Consti- 
tution being  violated.  Instead  of  following  Justice  Souter's  suggestions,  the  New 
York  State  legislature,  pointing  to  language  in  Justice  O'Connor's  concurrence 
which  found  a  problem  in  the  Kiryas  Joel  district  because  it  was  created  by  the 
legislature  to  benefit  Hassidic  children  directly,  passed  a  law — within  a  week  of  the 
decision — that  allowed  any  village  to  form  a  school  district  if  certain  conditions 
were  met.  Opponents  challenged  this  enactment  as  a  subterfuge,  claiming  that  these 
supposedly  generic  conditions  were  in  fact  applicable  only  to  Kiryas  Joel.  They 
warned  that  this  step  would  invite  a  Balkanization  of  communities  in  which  diverse 
religious,  racial,  ethnic,  and  sexual  groups  would  all  want  their  own  school  districts. 

A  challenge  to  the  constitutionality  of  the  new  statute  was  turned  back  in  March 
1995  by  a  New  York  State  trial  level  court,  the  same  court  whose  decision  overturn- 
ing the  earlier  legislation  had  earlier  found  its  way  to  the  U.S.  Supreme  Court.  This 
left  the  Kiryas  Joel  Village  School  District  in  place  as  the  case  once  again  began  to 
wend  its  way  through  the  appellate  process.  Meanwhile,  the  U.S.  Supreme  Court 
heard  argument  on  two  new  church-state  cases  and,  on  the  last  day  of  the  term  in 
June  1995,  rendered  potentially  ground-breaking  decisions. 

One  case,  Rosenberger  v.  Rectors  of  the  University  of  Virginia ,  involved  a  challenge 
by  the  editor  of  a  student-run  Christian  magazine  to  the  university's  refusal  to 
allocate  it  funds  generally  available  to  student  publications  on  the  grounds  that  this 
action  violated  his  freedom  of  speech.  The  university  had  refused  the  funding 
because,  in  its  view,  to  do  otherwise  would  violate  church-state  separation.  Voting 

138      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

5-4,  the  majority  held  that  the  "viewpoint  discrimination"  on  the  part  of  the 
university  was  not  justified,  even  if  the  motive  of  the  school  officials  was  to  avoid 
a  violation  of  the  establishment  clause.  The  opinion  of  the  Court,  written  by  Justice 
Kennedy,  made  much  of  the  fact  that  the  funding  program  was  "neutral  toward 
religion,"  not  a  general  tax  levied  "for  the  direct  support  of  a  church."  He  also 
referred  to  the  fact  that  the  funds  would  be  paid  to  the  printer  and  not  to  the 
religious  club.  Justice  Souter  wrote  for  the  dissenters,  contending  that  the  Court  had 
"for  the  first  time,  approve[d]  direct  funding  of  core  religious  activities  by  an  arm 
of  the  State."  Evenhandedness  in  distributing  benefits,  he  asserted,  was  not  sufficient 
to  overcome  the  constitutional  ban  on  such  an  action  by  the  state. 

The  other  case,  Capitol  Square  Review  and  Advisory  Board  v.  Pinette,  argued  in 
April,  saw  the  Court  hold  by  a  7-2  vote  that  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  had  a  free-speech 
right  to  display  an  unattended  wooden  cross  on  the  Ohio  statehouse  lawn  because 
other  religious  and  nonreligious  displays  had  been  allowed.  There  was  no  majority 
opinion,  however,  as  to  the  rationale  for  this  decision.  Justice  Scalia,  writing  for  four 
of  the  majority  justices,  argued  that  purely  private  rehgious  expression  that  occurs 
in  a  "pubhc  forum"  open  to  all  on  equal  terms  is,  by  definition,  not  a  violation  of 
the  Estabhshment  Clause.  Justices  Stevens  and  Ginsburg  dissented,  contending, 
among  other  things,  that  a  reasonable  observer  would  infer  government  endorse- 
ment of  even  a  private  religious  expression. 

Faced  with  complex  questions  about  the  relationship  between  the  Constitution's 
prohibition  on  establishment  of  religion  and  its  protection  of  free  speech,  the  orga- 
nized Jewish  community  seemed  nearly  as  spht  as  the  Supreme  Court  on  these  two 
cases,  particularly  with  respect  to  Pinette .  "These  two  cases  together  shrink  the 
Estabhshment  Clause,"  asserted  Samuel  Rabinove,  legal  director  for  the  American 
Jewish  Committee.  "Thomas  Jefferson,  who  disestablished  the  Anghcan  Church  in 
Virginia  and  who  founded  the  University  of  Virginia  must  be  turning  over  in  his 
grave."  The  American  Jewish  Congress  expressed  less  alarm  about  the  long-term 
impact  of  the  cases  even  though  it  had  filed  on  the  same  side  as  AJCommittee, 
Attorneys  for  the  Orthodox  community,  in  contrast  to  both  of  the  AJCs,  hailed  the 
decisions  as  a  welcome  recognition  by  the  Court  that,  in  the  words  of  attorney 
Nathan  Lewin,  "rehgious  expression  is  entitled  to  the  same  respect  as  secular 
expression  "  Agudath  Israel  general  counsel  David  Zwiebel  argued  as  well  that  the 
Rosenberger  case  was  "a  step  closer"  to  the  upholding  of  voucher  programs  as 


With  the  retirement  of  Justice  Harry  Blackmun  at  the  close  of  the  U.S.  Supreme 
Court's  1993  term  (in  the  summer  of  1994),  the  organized  Jewish  community  lost 
a  strong  supporter  of  its  positions  on  such  issues  as  rehgious  hberty  and  abortion 
rights.  In  naming  Justice  Blackmun's  successor — his  second  appointment  to  the 
high  court — President  Clinton  once  again  named  a  Jewish  jurist,  this  time  Judge 

U.S.     NATIONAL     AFFAIRS      /       139 

Stephen  Breyer  of  the  U.S.  Court  of  Appeals  for  the  First  Circuit.  Justice  Breyer 
was  confirmed  in  July  1994  by  a  Senate  vote  of  87-9.  The  Harvard  Law  School- 
educated  Breyer  brought  with  him  a  reputation  for  high  legal  competence,  even 
brilliance,  and  for  consensus  building. 

Following  nearly  two-and-a-half  decades  in  which  no  Jew  sat  on  the  Supreme 
Court — a  period  that  ended  only  with  the  1993  appointment  of  Ruth  Bader  Gins- 
burg — Justice  Breyer's  appointment  meant  that,  for  the  first  time  since  1938,  there 
were  two  Jewish  justices.  In  the  view  of  many  Jewish  commentators,  Chnton's 
second  Jewish  appointment  was  particularly  gratifying  because  the  decision  had 
clearly  been  made  based  on  merit  and  not  on  religion.  In  addition,  they  were 
reassured  by  statements  made  by  Judge  Breyer  at  his  confirmation  hearing  that 
placed  him  firmly  in  support  of  the  principle  of  separation  of  church  and  state. 

"Free-Exercise"  Developments 

Rehgious  harassment  in  the  workplace  became  an  issue,  starting  in  March  1994, 
when  the  Christian  Coahtion  attacked  guidehnes  proposed  by  the  Equal  Employ- 
ment Opportunity  Commission  (EEOC)  to  protect  employees  from  harassing  and 
derogatory  slurs  targeted  at  them  because  of  their  religious  beliefs. 

The  Christian  Coahtion  and  other  conservative  Christian  groups  claimed  that, 
rather  than  protect  employees  from  harassment,  the  guidehnes  would  push  employ- 
ers into  making  their  workplaces  "religion-free,"  so  that  any  form  of  rehgious 
expression  would  be  prohibited.  The  guidehnes  opponents  quickly  garnered  support 
from  a  number  of  senators  in  their  attempt  to  have  the  guidelines  withdrawn,  with 
hearings  held  on  the  issue  before  a  Senate  committee.  Many  Christian  and  civil- 
liberties  groups,  joined  by  a  virtually  unanimous  Jewish  community,  differed  sharply 
with  this  attack  on  ihe  EEOC  guidehnes,  viewing  them  as  an  important  protection 
of  rehgious  free  exercise — even  while  conceding  that  the  guidehnes  ought  to  be 
revised  so  as  to  make  clear  that  they  were  directed  only  at  truly  harassing  and 
derogatory  behavior.  Abba  Cohen,  Washington  representative  of  Agudath  Israel  of 
America,  stressed  that  Orthodox  Jews  are  often  harassed  by  questions  or  comments 
concerning  their  mode  of  dress  or  their  observance  of  the  Sabbath.  Supporters  of 
the  guidehnes  were  championed  by  Sen.  Howard  Metzenbaum,  who  asked,  "What 
kind  of  signal  would  that  send?  That  we  abhor  racial  or  sexual  slurs,  but  that 
rehgious  slurs  are  somehow  less  abhorrent,  or  even  acceptable?" 

In  September  1994,  following  the  inclusion  in  appropriations  legislation  of  lan- 
guage that  restricted  EEOC  autonomy  in  dealing  with  religious  harassment,  the 
EEOC  withdrew  the  entire  set  of  guidelines,  including  the  portions  deahng  with 
other  forms  of  harassment.  Given  the  changes  in  Congress  following  the  November 
election,  it  was  unhkely  that  the  EEOC  would  soon  reissue  guidehnes  on  this  subject. 

Not  to  be  confused  with — but  related  to — religious  harassment  is  the  issue  of 
rehgious  accommodation.  In  the  closing  days  of  the  103rd  Congress,  Rep.  Jerrold 
Nadler  (D.,  N.Y.)  introduced  the  Workplace  Rehgious  Freedom  Act,  legislation 

140      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

that  would  protect  the  right  of  employees  to  practice  their  religion  without  the  fear 
of  losing  their  jobs  or  being  passed  over  for  promotions.  A  1972  amendment  to  the 
Civil  Rights  Act  of  1964  ostensibly  provided  religiously  observant  employees  with 
a  right  to  religious  accommodation.  However,  the  courts  had  so  narrowly  inter- 
preted that  amendment  that  it  left  employers  with  relatively  little  obligation.  The 
Workplace  Religious  Freedom  Act,  American  Jewish  Committee  legislative  direc- 
tor and  counsel  Richard  Foltin  argued,  "would  give  the  protection  the  weight 
Congress  intended  in  the  first  place." 


Holocaust-Related  Matters 

There  were  further  developments  in  the  case  of  John  Demjanjuk,  the  man  who 
may  not  have  been  "Ivan  the  Terrible"  but  by  all  the  evidence  was  an  Ivan  culpable 
for  many  horrors  visited  upon  Jewish  men,  women,  and  children  during  the  Holo- 
caust. Following  his  return  to  the  United  States  in  September  1993,  after  the  Israeli 
Supreme  Court  reversed  his  conviction  on  the  grounds  that  the  prosecution  had  not 
met  its  burden  of  proof,  a  three-judge  panel  of  the  U.S.  Court  of  Appeals  for  the 
Sixth  Circuit  overturned  Demjanjuk's  extradition,  thus  allowing  him  to  remain  in 
the  United  States.  That  decision  was  affirmed  by  the  full  Court  of  Appeals  in 
February  1994. 

The  three-judge  panel  found,  in  issuing  its  ruling,  that  the  Justice  Department's 
Office  of  Special  Investigations  (OSI)  had  committed  fraud  in  the  1985  proceedings 
in  which  Demjanjuk's  extradition  to  Israel  was  initially  ordered,  and  that  OSI  had 
been  unduly  influenced  by  Jewish  groups,  including  the  Anti-Defamation  League, 
in  its  bringing  the  action  in  the  first  place.  Neither  of  these  findings  was  set  aside 
in  the  full  court's  reconsideration  of  the  matter,  even  though  they  ran  counter  to 
the  1992  conclusions  of  U.S.  district  court  Judge  Thomas  Wiseman,  Jr.,  who,  as  a 
special  master  appointed  by  the  appellate  court,  had  exonerated  OSI  on  these  points. 

OSI  filed  an  appeal  with  the  U.S.  Supreme  Court,  asserting  that  the  government 
had  acted  in  good  faith.  OSI's  petition  to  have  the  case  heard  by  the  high  court  was 
supported  by  the  World  Jewish  Congress,  among  others,  whose  brief  asserted  that 
the  lower  court's  decision  perpetuated  a  "vicious  stereotype"  of  Jews.  On  Monday, 
October  3,  1994,  the  opening  day  of  a  new  term,  the  high  court  declined  to  hear 
the  case. 

The  Supreme  Court's  decision  did  not  end  the  case.  The  Sixth  Circuit  determina- 
tion had  not  overturned  the  1981  ruling  by  U.S.  District  Judge  Frank  Battisti  that 
denaturalized  Demjanjuk  on  the  grounds  that  Demjanjuk  had  lied  about  his  activi- 
ties during  the  war  in  his  application  for  citizenship.  The  Justice  Department  filed 
a  motion  with  the  district  court  in  December  1993  asking  that  this  finding  be 

U.S.     NATIONAL    AFFAIRS      /      141 

reaffirmed,  an  action  that  would  provide  the  basis  for  Demjanjuk's  deportation. 
Judge  Battisti  had  stayed  action  on  that  petition  pending  resolution  of  the  appeal 
to  the  high  court.  The  month  was  not  out,  however,  before  Judge  Battisti  died,  thus 
assuring  further  delay  on  a  final  resolution  of  the  matter. 

With  far  less  public  attention,  the  Justice  Department's  Office  of  Special  Investi- 
gations continued  its  work  in  other  cases  of  gathering  and  presenting  evidence  of 
alleged  involvement  in  World  War  II  atrocities  by  persons  who  had  obtained  U.S. 
citizenship  after  the  war.  In  late  January  1994,  OSI  filed  new  documents  in  its 
ongoing  attempt  (dating  back  to  1992)  to  denaturalize  Jonas  Stelmokas,  a  Lithua- 
nian-American residing  in  Philadelphia,  on  the  grounds  that,  among  other  things, 
he  had  allegedly  been  a  platoon  commander  of  a  Lithuanian  police  battalion  that 
participated  in  the  liquidation  of  the  Kovno  Jewish  ghetto  on  October  29,  1941,  in 
which  9,200  Jews,  almost  half  of  them  children,  died  in  mass  executions. 

In  March  1994,  within  a  week  of  being  served  with  notice  of  an  OSI  deportation 
proceeding,  Peter  Mueller — a  Colorado  resident  and  German  national  who  was 
alleged  to  have  served  as  an  armed  Nazi  concentration-camp  guard  in  France  during 
World  War  II — voluntarily  left  the  United  States  for  Germany.  In  April  a  federal 
immigration  judge  in  Milwaukee  ordered  the  deportation  of  Croatian-born  Anton 
Tittjung,  a  former  guard  at  the  Mauthausen  concentration  camp  in  Austria,  on  the 
grounds  that  he  had  lied  about  his  wartime  record  to  gain  entry  to  the  United  States 
and,  later,  to  obtain  citizenship.  And  in  September  OSI  brought  citizenship-revoca- 
tion proceedings  against  two  men  accused  of  war  crimes  in  Lithuania,  including 
Aleksandras  Lileikis  of  Norwood,  Massachusetts,  who  was  said  to  have  been  the 
chief  of  the  Lithuanian  Security  Police — the  Saugumas — for  the  entire  Vilnius 
(Vilna)  Province  during  the  German  occupation.  The  Saugumas  were  responsible 
for  some  of  the  most  brutal  atrocities  against  Jews  and  others  during  World  War 

Actions  were  brought  by  OSI  against  other  war  criminals  throughout  1994  and 
into  1995,  as  well.  In  all,  OSI  reported  in  September  1994,  50  Nazi  war  criminals 
up  until  that  time  had  lost  their  citizenship  because  of  OSI  cases,  and  42  of  those 
had  been  removed  from  the  United  States.  As  of  that  date,  OSI  was  investigating 
more  than  300  additional  possible  war  criminals. 

OSI's  top  leadership  changed  in  1994.  Director  Neal  Sher  left  OSI,  after  15  years 
of  government  service,  to  become  executive  director  of  the  American  Israel  Public 
Affairs  Committee  (AIPAC).  Sher's  departure,  taken  together  with  the  accusations 
leveled  at  OSI  by  an  appellate  court  in  the  wake  of  the  unfavorable  result  in  the 
Demjanjuk  case,  raised  some  concern  that  the  Justice  Department  office  might  see 
its  mission  compromised  or  its  very  existence  threatened.  For  the  Jewish  commu- 
nity, however,  there  was  a  general  conviction  that  the  OSI's  mission  was  more 
essential  than  ever,  given  the  new  flow  of  information  from  a  democratizing  Eastern 
Europe  that  was  likely  to  mean  new  opportunities  to  identify,  and  take  action 
against,  war  criminals. 

142      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

Eli  Rosenbaum,  a  longtime  attorney  on  the  OSI  staflf,  was  appointed  acting 
director  upon  Sher's  departure  and  director  in  February  1995.  He  was  generally 
regarded  by  the  Jewish  community  as  a  capable  lawyer  and  passionate  advocate  of 
OSI's  work. 

Pollard  and  Manning 

Late  in  1993,  outgoing  defense  secretary  Les  Aspin  advised  President  Clinton  that 
Jonathan  Pollard,  who  was  serving  a  life  sentence  for  delivering  sensitive  U.S. 
classified  material  to  Israel,  had  tried  to  send  out  top  secret  information  in  14  letters 
from  his  prison  cell.  1994  began  with  a  rebuttal  to  this  charge  by  spy  novelist 
Howard  Kaplan,  who  released  a  censored  letter  he  had  received  from  Pollard  some 
six  years  earlier,  in  order  to  demonstrate  that  all  of  Pollard's  correspondence  was 
subject  to  heavy  censorship  and  that  Pollard  knew  that  it  was. 

The  controversy  over  Aspin's  allegations  was  related  to  an  ongoing  controversy 
within  the  administration  over  whether  Pollard  should  be  granted  clemency,  with 
the  State  and  Justice  Departments  reportedly  for  and  the  Defense  Department  and 
intelligence  agencies  reportedly  against. 

Israeli  prime  minister  Yitzhak  Rabin  and  several  American  Jewish  organizations 
appealed  to  President  Clinton  to  reduce  Pollard's  life  sentence  on  humanitarian 
grounds,  the  effect  of  which  reduction  would  be  to  make  Pollard  eligible  for  immedi- 
ate parole.  The  National  Jewish  Community  Relations  Advisory  Council,  after 
years  of  avoiding  the  fray,  wrote  to  the  president,  urging  that  there  be  a  review  of 
the  case  and  that,  if  the  president  found  the  sentence  improper,  he  consider  reducing 
the  sentence  to  time  served. 

On  March  23,  President  Clinton  announced  his  decision  to  deny  clemency  to 
Pollard,  noting  that  this  decision  reflected  "the  unanimous  views  of  the  law  enforce- 
ment and  national  security  agencies,"  including  Attorney  General  Janet  Reno, 
based  on  "the  grave  nature"  of  Pollard's  crime  and  "the  considerable  damage  that 
his  actions  caused  our  nation."  Pollard's  attorneys,  as  well  as  his  supporters  in  the 
Jewish  community,  who  had  long  argued  that  he  committed  his  crimes  out  of  love 
for  Israel,  and  that  the  fruits  of  his  espionage  were  shared  only  with  a  friendly 
nation,  expressed  their  disappointment  and  anger  at  this  determination. 

Pollard's  supporters  now  focused  their  attention  on  a  campaign  to  win  him  parole 
on  humanitarian  grounds  when  he  first  became  eligible  in  November  1995.  In  the 
meantime,  in  May  1994,  Pollard  married  Elaine  Zeitz,  the  head  of  a  Canadian 
support  group  seeking  his  release.  The  wedding  took  place  at  a  federal  correctional 
institution  in  Butner,  North  Carolina,  where  Pollard  was  serving  his  term. 

California-born  Robert  Manning,  a  dual  Israeli-American  national,  was  sen- 
tenced by  an  American  court  to  life  imprisonment — without  possibility  of  parole 
for  30  years — for  his  role  in  the  1980  mail-bomb  death  of  a  Los  Angeles  secretary. 
Manning  had  been  named  as  a  suspect  by  Los  Angeles  authorities  in  a  number  of 
cases  involving  attacks  against  Arab- Americans  and  neo-Nazis,  but  the  sentence  in 

U.S.     NATIONAL    AFFAIRS      /      143 

this  case  was  for  a  crime  with  no  apparent  political  or  religious  connection.  His  wife, 
Rachel  Manning,  also  a  dual  national,  was  ordered  extradited  to  the  United  States 
by  Israel  for  her  role  in  the  same  crime,  but  died  of  a  heart  attack  on  March  1 8, 
1994,  while  still  in  Israeli  custody. 

Richard  T.  Foltin 

Jewish  Communal  Affairs 

XVeverberations  of  the  SEPTEMBER  1 993  mutual-recognition  agrw- 
ment  between  Israel  and  the  Palestine  Liberation  Organization  (PLO)  continued  to 
divide  American  Jewry  throughout  1994  and  early  1995.  A  vocal  minority  of 
American  Jews,  convinced  that  the  peace  process  would  prove  fatal  to  the  Jewish 
state,  used  public  protest  and  political  action  to  frustrate  the  stated  policy  of  the 
Israeli  government.  The  ramifications  of  the  peace  process,  in  turn,  led  to  intensified 
debate  about  the  future  of  American  Jewish-Israeli  relations  and  the  impact  of  that 
relationship  on  the  future  of  Jewish  life  in  the  United  States.  Other  issues  that 
attracted  attention  were  the  death  of  the  Rebbe  of  Lubavitch,  Menachera  M. 
Schneerson,  the  renewed  questioning — in  light  of  the  1994  elections — of  Jewish 
political  liberalism,  the  fate  of  convicted  spy  Jonathan  Pollard,  and  the  ongoing 
relevance  of  Holocaust  memory. 

Debating  the  Peace  Process 

While  a  solid  majority  of  American  Jews,  along  with  most  of  their  major  organiza- 
tions, supported  the  Israel-PLO  agreement  with  varying  degrees  of  enthusiasm,  a 
determined  minority  opposed  it  on  security  or  rehgious  grounds,  or  both.  Another 
minority — less  aggressive  and  vociferous,  to  be  sure,  since  it  basically  agreed  with 
Israeli  policy — urged  the  Jewish  state  to  be  even  more  forthcoming  in  addressing 
Palestinian  concerns. 

On  January  4,  1994,  Lester  Pollack,  chairman  of  the  Conference  of  Presidents  of 
Major  American  Jewish  Organizations,  delivered  an  address  in  Jerusalem  on 
"American  Jewry,  Israel,  and  the  Peace  Process."  Acknowledging  that  American 
Jews  felt  "growing  concern  and  apprehension  about  violence  and  terror"  in  Israel 
since  the  Rabin-Arafat  handshake  on  the  White  House  lawn  almost  three  months 
earlier,  he  denied  any  "real  diminution"  of  American  Jewish  support  for  the  peace 
process.  Chiding  the  media  for  paying  too  much  attention  to  the  dissenters  in  the 
American  Jewish  community.  Pollack  declared  that  those  dissenters  "should  ex- 
press their  views  in  responsible  and  effective  ways." 

Early  the  next  day,  bombs  were  left  outside  the  New  York  offices  of  two  organiza- 
tions that  had  long  and  vocally  supported  the  peace  process.  A  security  guard  found 
the  bomb  intended  for  Americans  for  Peace  Now  (APN),  and  the  police  disarmed 
it.  The  bomb  left  in  front  of  the  New  Israel  Fund  went  off,  but  caused  no  damage. 
Both  had  notes  attached  condemning  Israel's  peace  pohcy  and  signed  by  Maccabee 
Squad  and  Shield  of  David,  hitherto  unknown  groups. 

The  entire  spectrum  of  American  Jewish  organizations,  including  those  opposed 


JEWISH    COMMUNAL    AFFAIRS      /      145 

to  the  peace  process — even  the  Jewish  Defense  Organization,  a  successor  to  the  late 
Rabbi  Meir  Kahane's  Jewish  Defense  League — denounced  the  attacks.  Neverthe- 
less, Israel's  consul  in  New  York,  Colette  Avital,  interviewed  on  CBS's  "60  Min- 
utes," said  that  the  bombing  attempts  were  the  inevitable  result  of  extreme  state- 
ments against  the  Israeli  government  and  the  verbal  and  physical  abuse  heaped  upon 
Israeli  representatives  by  certain  American  Jewish  audiences.  Letty  Cottin  Pogre- 
bin,  chairwoman  of  Americans  for  Peace  Now,  specifically  blamed  "supporters  of 
the  Likud  and  other  rightist  parties"  for  "using  words  like  'traitor'  to  delegitimate 
the  Rabin  government  and  its  supporters."  Former  Israeli  prime  minister  Yitzhak 
Shamir  added  fuel  to  the  fire  when  he  asserted  that  even  had  the  bombs  gone  off, 
the  damage  would  have  amounted  to  less  than  that  caused  by  Peace  Now.  The 
Conference  of  Presidents  was  about  to  condemn  the  comment,  but  executive  vice- 
chairman  Malcolm  Hoenlein  put  in  a  call  to  Shamir,  who  explained  that  his  state- 
ment had  come  out  the  opposite  of  what  he  intended. 

In  February  the  National  Jewish  Community  Relations  Advisory  Council 
(NJCRAC),  the  umbrella  organization  reflecting  the  views  of  national  and  local 
Jewish  bodies,  took  up  the  subject  of  the  peace  process.  For  the  first  time,  it  heard 
presentations  not  only  from  an  Israeli  government  spokesperson — in  this  case. 
Deputy  Foreign  Minister  Yossi  Beilin — but  also  from  opposition  leader  Benjamin 
Netanyahu.  After  listening  to  both  sides,  the  delegates  almost  unanimously  affirmed 
support  for  the  peace  process  and  resolved  to  mount  an  educational  campaign  "to 
broaden  American  public  understanding  of  the  peace  process  and  risks  related  to 
it"  and  "to  discourage  divisive  and  inflammatory  rhetoric"  within  the  Jewish  com- 


On  February  25,  1994,  Baruch  Goldstein,  an  American-born  Israeli  physician, 
opened  fire  on  Muslims  at  prayer  in  the  Tomb  of  the  Patriarchs  in  the  heavily  Arab 
West  Bank  city  of  Hebron.  At  least  29  were  killed  and  many  more  wounded  before 
Goldstein  was  subdued  and  beaten  to  death.  The  act  was  universally  condemned  in 
the  American  Jewish  community,  as  both  rabbis  and  Jewish  organizations  called  it 
antithetical  to  Jewish  values.  In  several  American  communities,  Jews  joined  with 
Christians  and  Muslims  at  interfaith  services  to  mourn  the  victims  and  pray  for 
peace.  Nevertheless,  Jews  differed  with  each  other  over  the  massacre's  implications 
for  the  ongoing  peace  process. 

The  mainstream  umbrella  organizations  supporting  Israeli  policy  warned  that  the 
Israeli-Palestinian  negotiations  must  not  fall  victim  to  this  atrocity.  Lynn  Lyss, 
NJCRAC  chairwoman,  hoped  that  "today's  tragedy  will  spur  a  renewal  of  efforts 
to  bring  peace  and  reconciliation  between  Israel  and  the  Palestinians."  Lester  Pol- 
lack, the  Conference  of  Presidents  chairman,  said:  "We  must  not  allow  this  or  other 
acts  of  violence  to  undermine  peace  negotiations,  incite  tensions  in  the  area,  or 
provoke  further  bloodshed."  The  conference's  regularly  scheduled  annual  mission 

146      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

to  Israel  began  two  days  later.  The  talks  that  took  place  between  the  Jewish  leaders 
on  the  mission  and  the  Jews  and  Arabs  they  met  focused  on  the  fate  of  the  peace 
process.  Executive  vice-chairman  Hoenlein  summed  up  the  conclusions  of  the 
Americans:  "There  is  a  threat  of  polarization,  both  Palestinian  and  Israeli.  The 
challenge  for  the  Israeli  leadership  is  to  ensure  that  polarization  not  be  allowed  to 

Groups  to  the  left  and  the  right  of  this  mainstream  had  other  ideas.  Those 
ardently  committed  to  furthering  the  peace  process  argued  that  Goldstein  had  been 
able  to  act  because  Israeli  poHcy  was  too  soft  on  militant  Jewish  settlers.  Americans 
for  Peace  Now,  for  example,  urged  the  Israeli  government  to  "remove  Jews  from 
the  heart  of  Hebron  where  their  presence  inflames  relations  and  poses  a  danger  to 
all  residents  of  the  area."  And  several  weeks  later,  APN  joined  with  the  National 
Association  of  Arab  Americans  in  a  formal  statement  calling  for  the  evacuation  of 
all  Israeli  settlers  from  Hebron  and  Gaza.  But  on  the  other  side  of  the  political 
spectrum,  Americans  for  a  Safe  Israel,  affiliated  with  the  Israeli  Likud,  blamed 
Israel's  peace  policy  for  letting  Arabs  "get  away  with  murder,"  thereby  nurturing 
the  "frustration"  among  Jewish  settlers  that  led  to  Goldstein's  act.  During  the 
Conference  of  Presidents'  mission  to  Israel,  Morton  Klein,  president  of  the  Zionist 
Organization  of  America,  publicly  challenged  a  Palestinian  leader  to  match  Jewish 
condemnation  of  the  Hebron  massacre  by  condemning  Palestinian  killings  of  Jews. 
When  he  declined  to  do  so,  Klein  called  it  a  "frightening  message  about  his  insincer- 
ity in  wanting  to  live  in  peace  with  the  Israeli  people." 

Of  all  American  Jews,  it  was  the  Orthodox  who  had  the  most  difficulty  coming 
to  grips  with  the  Hebron  killings:  Baruch  Goldstein  had  been  raised  in  a  Brooklyn 
Orthodox  home  and  educated  in  well-known  yeshivas.  Since  those  who  knew  him 
had  only  good  things  to  say  about  Goldstein — "he  was  as  nice  a  boy  as  you'll  ever 
find,"  recalled  one  teacher — many  could  only  explain  his  act  as  an  outburst  of 
irrationality.  Shlomo  Riskin,  the  American-born  rabbi  of  the  West  Bank  town  of 
Efrat,  said,  on  a  visit  to  New  York,  that  Goldstein  was  "a  very  compassionate  doctor 
who  just  went  insane." 

Others  were  not  willing  to  leave  it  at  that  and  called  for  critical  scrutiny  of  the 
kind  of  Orthodox  Judaism  that  could  produce  a  Goldstein.  Rabbi  Louis  Bernstein, 
his  Jewish  history  professor  at  Yeshiva  University,  recalled  with  regret  the  failure 
of  modern  Orthodox  circles  to  ostracize  Meir  Kahane.  "Ashamnu"  he  said,  "we 
are  guilty,  we  have  tolerated  this  phenomenon  of  Kahanism  in  Jewish  life."  Ze'ev 
Chafetz,  writing  in  the  Jerusalem  Report  (March  24,  1995),  claimed  that  "anyone 
who  has  visited  Orthodox  synagogues  in  America"  knows  the  extent  of  Kahanist 
influence.  And  Shlomo  Sternberg,  an  Orthodox  rabbi,  in  a  letter  to  the  New  York 
Times  (March  9,  1994),  asserted  that  "there  is  something  rotten"  at  the  core  of 
modern  Orthodox  education.  "Literalism,  fundamentalism,  and  obscurantism,"  he 
wrote,  had  taken  over  the  curriculum,  ultimately  producing  a  Goldstein.  In  re- 
sponse, 1,700  students  from  22  yeshiva  high  schools  paid  for  a  full-page  ad  in  the 
Times  (March  18)  deploring  the  massacre,  but  at  the  same  time  expressing  "dis- 

JEWISH    COMMUNAL    AFFAIRS      /      147 

tress"  at  "the  silence  of  Arab  leaders  in  the  face  of  wanton  violence  against  Jews" 
and  "concern"  over  the  stereotyping  of  all  Jewish  settlers  on  the  basis  of  Goldstein's 

Even  as  the  Hebron  massacre  evoked  renewed  calls  both  in  Israel  and  the  United 
States  to  curb  the  activities  of  militant  Jewish  settlers  in  heavily  Arab  parts  of  the 
West  Bank,  most  Orthodox  organizations — many  of  whose  members  had  relatives 
living  in  the  tei'ritories — continued  to  express  skepticism  about  the  peace  negotia- 
tions. Orthodox  fund-raising  for  the  settlements  in  the  territories  continued,  with 
a  number  of  synagogues  "adopting"  specific  Jewish  settlements.  Rabbi  Pinchas 
Stolper,  executive  vice-president  of  the  Union  of  Orthodox  Jewish  Congregations, 
explained:  "Our  position  is  that  the  security  and  safety  and  development  of  the 
Jewish  communities  in  Judea  and  Samaria  must  be  protected  and  enhanced."  Those 
within  the  Orthodox  community  who  favored  the  peace  process — they  would  form 
an  organization  later  in  the  year  called  Shvil  Hazahav  (The  Middle  Way) — de- 
scribed themselves  as  a  beleaguered  minority,  and  some  reported  receiving  death 

The  organized  American  Jewish  community  found  itself  in  the  unaccustomed 
position  of  differing  with  the  government  of  Israel  over  a  proposed  UN  Security 
Council  resolution  condemning  the  Hebron  massacre.  While  no  one  opposed  the 
condemnation  itself,  the  resolution  had  a  problematic  preamble  that  included  Jeru- 
salem as  one  of  the  "territories  occupied  by  Israel  in  June  1967."  American  Jewish 
groups  reacted  with  alarm,  fearful  that  U.S.  acquiescence  with  this  wording  might 
mark  a  retreat  from  the  American  position  that  Jerusalem  is  not  "occupied  terri- 
tory." The  U.S.  Senate  unanimously  passed  a  resolution  urging  the  administration 
to  exercise  its  veto.  Both  the  Conference  of  Presidents  and  the  American  Israel 
Public  Affairs  Committee  (AIPAC)  were  about  to  endorse  the  call  for  a  veto  when 
they  were  informed  that  the  Israeli  government  wanted  the  resolution  passed  as 
worded,  so  as  to  bring  the  Palestinians  back  to  the  bargaining  table  to  continue  the 
negotiations  broken  off  after  the  massacre.  Thus,  only  the  Zionist  Organization  of 
America  (ZOA)  and — at  the  last  minute — the  Anti-Defamation  League  called  for 
a  U.S.  veto.  The  UN  resolution  passed  unanimously  on  March  18,  with  the  Ameri- 
can delegate  abstaining  on  the  objectionable  language  in  the  preamble,  an  act  having 
no  legal  bearing  on  the  validity  of  the  resolution.  Afterward,  the  American  Jewish 
organizations  that  knew  full  well  in  advance  that  Israel  had  opposed  a  U.S.  veto 
issued  pro  forma  denunciations  of  the  preamble. 

In  April  the  ZOA,  whose  official  policy  supported  peace  negotiations  along  with 
an  insistence  on  meticulous  PLO  adherence  to  its  undertakings  under  the  agree- 
ment, announced  the  creation  of  a  Peace  Accord  Monitoring  Group  in  Congress  to 
keep  tabs  on  whether  the  PLO  was  adhering  to  the  accords.  Israeli  authorities 
expressed  no  opinion  about  this  move.  Eager  to  establish  and  enhance  their  pro- 
Israel  credentials,  45  senators  and  representatives  joined  the  group  over  the  next 
several  months. 

Through  the  spring  and  summer,  there  were  numerous  signs  of  rapprochement 

148      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

between  mainstream  American  Jewish  organizations  and  the  Arab  world.  In  April 
the  American  Zionist  Movement  held  its  first  meeting  ever  with  the  PLO  observer 
at  the  UN.  In  May  delegates  to  the  American  Jewish  Committee's  annual  meeting 
in  Washington,  D.C.,  for  the  first  time  visited  the  embassies  of  Jordan,  Saudi  Arabia, 
and  Tunisia  and  the  PLO  office.  Also  that  month,  the  AJCommittee  met  with  the 
Kuwaiti  ambassador  in  Washington,  the  first  time  that  any  Kuwaiti  leader  had  sat 
with  representatives  of  an  American  Jewish  organization.  And  in  June  the  United 
Jewish  Appeal  added  Jordan  to  the  list  of  countries  to  which  it  sent  organized 
missions.  The  generally  sympathetic  attitude  of  the  American  Jewish  public  toward 
Israeli  policy  was  reflected  in  a  poll  conducted  in  May  by  an  organization  affiliated 
with  the  Israeli  Labor  Party:  88  percent  of  respondents  favored  the  peace  process, 

The  Israeli  government,  however,  recognizing  the  determination  of  the  opposition 
within  the  American  Jewish  community,  continued  to  use  the  powers  of  persuasion 
to  reassure  the  doubters.  In  May  1994,  both  Uri  Savir,  director-general  of  Israel's 
Foreign  Ministry  and  one  of  the  architects  of  the  Oslo  accords,  and  Foreign  Minister 
Shimon  Peres  came  to  New  York  to  defend  the  peace  process  before  the  Conference 
of  Presidents. 

The  annual  Salute  to  Israel  Parade  in  May  1994,  which  featured  some  60,000 
young  marchers,  managed  to  avoid  political  polarization.  The  parade  chairperson 
said  afterward,  "We  refused  to  get  bogged  down  in  any  extraneous  issues,  such  as 
'Are  you  for  the  government  peace  plan  or  are  you  against  it?' "  Nevertheless, 
dissident  factions  on  the  right  and  the  left  made  their  presence  felt.  Those  of  a  dovish 
persuasion  carried  signs  calling  for  dismantling  Jewish  settlements  in  the  territories 
and  the  establishment  of  a  Palestinian  state,  while  the  Betar  Youth  Organization, 
affiliated  with  Likud,  chanted  antigovernment  sentiments,  and  the  followers  of  Meir 
Kahane  held  up  signs  calling  Yitzhak  Rabin  a  traitor  and  Baruch  Goldstein  a  hero. 
After  the  parade,  20,000  people  attended  a  rally  in  Central  Park  "in  solidarity  with 
the  settlements,"  sponsored  by  the  National  Council  of  Young  Israel,  an  Orthodox 
synagogue  group. 


Over  the  course  of  the  summer,  the  three  ideological  camps  within  the  community 
— followers  of  the  Israeli  line  on  the  peace  process,  those  favoring  a  more  forthcom- 
ing Israeli  stand,  and  those  opposed  to  concessions — all  tried  to  influence  U.S.  and 
Israeli  government  policy. 

In  June,  as  the  U.S.  Agency  for  International  Development  prepared  to  set  up 
an  office  to  dispense  funds  for  assistance  to  the  autonomous  Palestinian  districts  of 
Gaza  and  Jericho,  AIPAC,  seconded  by  pro-Israel  members  of  Congress,  warned 
that  the  office  should  not  be  located  in  East  Jerusalem,  since  that  would  "erode 
Jerusalem's  status  as  Israel's  undivided  capital."  Americans  for  Peace  Now  dis- 
agreed, arguing  that  such  an  office  in  East  Jerusalem  would  not  set  any  precedent 
for  the  future. 

JEWISH    COMMUNAL    AFFAIRS     /      149 

The  next  issue  of  controversy,  later  that  month,  was  Prime  Minister  Rabin's 
statement  that  Yasir  Arafat  would  be  allowed  to  pray  in  Jerusalem.  The  Likud 
mayor  of  Jerusalem  urged  Diaspora  Jews  to  join  him  in  demonstrations  against  any 
such  visit,  and  some  American  Jewish  groups  hostile  to  the  peace  process  indicated 
a  willingness  to  come.  The  Conference  of  Presidents  declined  to  take  sides,  but 
NJCRAC  issued  a  letter  supporting  the  right  of  Arafat  to  pray  in  Jerusalem. 

In  early  July,  the  Golan  Heights  also  became  a  focus  of  controversy.  Americans 
for  a  Safe  Israel  and  other  American  Jewish  groups  opposed  to  the  peace  process, 
in  alliance  with  a  number  of  Christian  pro-Israel  organizations,  pushed  aggressively 
for  the  U.S.  Senate  to  bar  appropriations  for  any  possible  deployment  of  U.S.  troops 
for  peacekeeping  on  the  Golan  Heights  in  the  event  of  a  peace  agreement  between 
Israel  and  Syria.  Though  this  move  was  ostensibly  motivated  by  concern  for  the 
safety  of  American  GIs,  Israeli  officials  termed  it  a  blatant  attempt  to  stymie  a  deal 
with  Syria  by  foreclosing  the  option  of  an  American  peacekeeping  role.  In  Prime 
Minister  Rabin's  words,  "This  is  simple  stupidity,  a  distorted  presentation  by  the 
Israeli  right  and  the  American  Jewish  right."  With  AIPAC  espousing  the  official 
Israeli  position  and  lobbying  against  the  proposed  Senate  restrictions  on  U.S.  peace- 
keeping, they  did  not  pass. 

Eventually,  tensions  between  the  mainstream  Jewish  bodies  and  those  more  skep- 
tical of  the  Israeli  peace  policy  flared  into  open  war.  On  July  29,  at  an  all-night 
session  of  a  congressional  conference  committee  seeking  to  finalize  the  U.S.  foreign 
aid  bill,  ZOA  president  Morton  Klein  appeared,  urging  the  conferees  to  endorse  the 
Shelby-Specter  Amendment,  which  conditioned  aid  to  the  PLO  on  that  organiza- 
tion's compliance  with  the  peace  accords.  The  amendment  passed,  to  the  great 
chagrin  of  the  conference  committee  chairman.  AIPAC,  long  acknowledged  to  be 
the  community's  designated  pro-Israel  lobby,  expressed  outrage,  charging  that 
Klein,  by  failing  to  consult  and  coordinate  with  AIPAC,  had  acted  in  "an  amateur- 
ish and  hostile  fashion"  that  "put  the  entire  pro-Israel  agenda  at  risk."  AIPAC 
called  on  the  Conference  of  Presidents  to  take  disciplinary  action  against  the  ZOA. 
Klein,  for  his  part,  charged  that  AIPAC  was  just  jealous  that  its  turf  had  been 
invaded.  "One  organization,"  he  said,  "cannot  possibly  represent  community  con- 
sensus on  every  issue,  and  I  have  a  responsibility  to  speak  out." 

Rejecting  Klein's  request  for  a  public  hearing  on  AIPAC's  charges  against  him, 
the  Conference  of  Presidents  held  a  closed-door  session  of  its  leadership,  which 
Klein  refused  to  attend.  What  emerged  was  a  set  of  guidelines  for  the  future, 
reiterating  that  all  Israel-related  lobbying  had  to  be  cleared  first  with  AIPAC,  which 
voices  the  consensus  of  the  community.  Klein  reacted  by  denying  that  there  was  any 
American  Jewish  consensus  on  Israel's  policies,  arguing:  "If  the  community  is  split 
50-50  on  an  issue,  how  can  AIPAC  reflect  a  consensus  of  the  Jewish  people?" 
AIPAC  responded  that  American  Jewry  as  a  whole  backed  Israel's  course,  and  that 
the  organization  was  therefore  justified  in  speaking  for  the  community. 

Meanwhile,  American  Jews  eager  to  accelerate  the  peace  process  also  pressed 
their  case.  In  July  Project  Nishma  sent  a  delegation  to  Syria,  where  it  met  for  two 

150      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

hours  with  President  Hafez  al-Assad  and  discussed  the  prospects  for  a  Syrian-Israeli 
peace.  In  August  the  American  Jewish  Congress  sent  a  similar  delegation  to  speak 
with  Assad.  This  trip  was  officially  under  the  aegis  of  the  Council  of  Foreign 
Relations,  whose  U.S./Middle  East  Project  director,  Henry  Siegman,  was  the  for- 
mer AJCongress  executive  director.  With  the  approach  of  the  High  Holy  Days,  the 
Israel  Policy  Forum,  a  pro-peace  group,  compiled  a  resource  guide  to  traditional 
Jewish  sources  about  peace,  which  it  sent  to  some  4,000  American  rabbis  along  with 
a  cover  letter  suggesting  that  it  be  used  for  sermons.  Not  one  of  the  13  rabbinic 
signatories  of  the  letter  was  Orthodox. 

On  September  1 3,  to  mark  the  first  anniversary  of  the  signing  of  the  Declaration 
of  Principles  between  Israel  and  the  PLO,  Prime  Minister  Rabin  participated  in  a 
teleconference  with  American  Jews  in  over  70  cities,  a  number  of  whom  described 
to  Rabin  what  their  communities  had  done  to  further  the  peace  process.  This  was 
also  the  theme  of  a  booklet  issued  by  the  Conference  of  Presidents.  The  same  day, 
the  American  Jewish  Committee  released  the  results  of  a  survey  of  American  Jewish 
opinion  about  the  peace  process  that  showed  continuing  strong  support  for  the 
negotiations.  However,  comparisons  with  a  similar  AJC  poll  taken  immediately 
after  the  signing  a  year  before  indicated  some  slippage  in  enthusiasm.  "People 
responded  in  a  less  euphoric,  more  realistic  manner,"  explained  AJC  executive 
director  David  Harris.  Significantly,  while  in  1993  no  subgroup  in  the  sample 
opposed  the  accords,  in  1994  a  majority  of  the  Orthodox  registered  opposition. 

When  the  General  Assembly  of  the  Council  of  Jewish  Federations  (GIF)  con- 
vened in  Denver  in  November,  it  heard  not  only  from  Prime  Minister  Rabin  but 
also  from  Likud  chief  Benjamin  Netanyahu.  This  marked  the  first  time  that  the 
leader  of  the  Israeli  opposition  had  been  invited  to  speak.  In  his  address,  the  prime 
minister  lashed  out  at  Israelis  opposed  to  his  peace  policies,  who,  he  charged,  had 
been  lobbying  members  of  Congress  to  bar  the  stationing  of  American  troops  on  the 
Golan.  Such  lobbyists,  he  said,  were  damaging  Israel  by  strengthening  isolationist 
tendencies  in  American  poHtics.  Netanyahu,  in  his  speech,  denied  that  he  had 
anything  to  do  with  lobbying  on  Capitol  Hill  and  proceeded  to  criticize  the  notion 
of  using  Americans  to  patrol  the  Golan.  The  CJF  Board  of  Delegates  approved  a 
resolution  endorsing  the  official  Israeli  peace  policy. 


Several  aspects  of  the  November  8  congressional  elections  were  noteworthy  from 
a  Middle  East  perspective.  For  one  thing,  donations  to  pro-Israel  PACs  dropped 
precipitously — 50  percent  since  the  1992  election.  Observers  attributed  this  to  the 
lack  of  any  sense  of  imminent  danger  to  Israel,  as  evidenced  by  the  peace  negotia- 
tions and  the  friendly  stance  of  the  Clinton  administration  toward  the  Jewish  state. 
For  another,  the  huge  Republican  landslide  brought  numerous  freshman  member? 
to  Congress,  and  AIPAC  geared  up  to  educate  them  about  Israel-related  issues.  And 
since  both  houses  of  Congress  would  be  Republican,  American  Jews  hostile  to  the 

JEWISH    COMMUNAL    AFFAIRS      /      151 

peace  prcx:ess  looked  forward  to  key  congressional  committee  chairmanships  falling 
into  the  hands  of  foreign-policy  hard-liners  who  would  demand  more  of  the  Pales- 
tinians and  the  Arab  nations  than  did  the  Clinton  administration,  or,  for  that  matter, 
the  government  of  Israel. 

A  clash  emerged  even  before  the  new  Congress  convened.  On  December  1 ,  a  State 
Department  report  on  PLO  compliance  with  the  peace  accords  unleashed  another 
round  of  bickering  within  the  American  Jewish  community  and  attempts  by  the 
competing  factions  to  influence  Congress.  The  report — which  the  Shelby-Specter 
Amendment  required  once  every  six  months  as  a  condition  for  American  funding 
of  the  Palestinian  Authority  in  Gaza  and  Jericho — concluded  that  the  PLO  was 
sufficiently  in  compliance  to  merit  the  funding.  Nevertheless,  it  cited  numerous  PLO 
words  and  deeds  that  seemed  to  contradict  its  professed  commitment  to  peace  with 
Israel.  The  ZOA,  skeptical  of  the  peace  process  to  begin  with,  termed  a  "whitewash" 
the  State  Department  conclusion  that  aid  was  merited  and  said  it  would  use  evidence 
in  the  report  to  lobby  Congress  against  such  aid.  An  official  of  Americans  for  Peace 
Now,  on  the  other  hand,  while  acknowledging  that  the  Palestinians  had  not  com- 
pletely lived  up  to  their  obligations,  was  "encouraged  by  their  progress." 

Striving  to  build  a  middle-ground  position,  AIPAC  president  Steven  Grossman 
announced  that  his  organization  continued  to  back  aid  for  the  Palestinian  Authority 
while  expressing  sharp  criticism  of  the  PLO  leader:  "The  time  has  come  for  Arafat 
to  ratchet  up  his  compliance  with  his  commitments.  If  the  Israeli  people,  the 
American  people  and  Congress  are  going  to  have  full  faith  in  Arafat,  then  he  needs 
to  be  more  assiduous  and  steadfast  in  his  efforts."  This  language  proved  too  harsh 
for  the  Israeli  government,  which  feared  that  it  might  give  aid  and  comfort  to  those 
eager  to  cut  off  aid,  a  move  that  could  sabotage  the  peace  process.  Israeli  ambassador 
Itamar  Rabinovich  placed  phone  calls  to  American  Jewish  leaders  urging  them  not 
to  emphasize  the  negative  aspects  of  the  State  Department  report.  Congress  voted 
to  renew  funding. 


Meanwhile,  the  dovish  critique  of  Israeli  policy  found  its  way  onto  the  op-ed  page 
of  theA^ew  York  Times  (January  26,  1995).  In  the  wake  of  a  suicide  bombing  that 
left  21  dead  Israelis  and  induced  Israeli  president  Ezer  Weizman  to  call  for  a 
moratorium  on  the  peace  process,  Henry  Siegman  argued,  to  the  contrary,  that  only 
an  Israeli  decision  to  remove  the  settlements  in  the  territories  and  a  commitment 
to  a  Palestinian  state  would  provide  the  reassurances  that  would  pacify  the  Palestini- 
ans. Phil  Baum,  Siegman's  successor  as  AJCongress  executive  director,  and  David 
V.  Kahn,  the  organization's  president,  responded  with  a  letter  to  the  editor  counter- 
ing that  Siegman's  proposal  would  "confer  on  the  fanatics  a  legitimacy  the  peace 
process  wisely  denies  them"  (February  1,  1995). 

As  the  104th  Congress  opened,  attention  shifted  back  to  the  issue  of  using  U.S. 
troops  to  insure  peace  on  the  Golan.  A  new  Coalition  for  a  Secure  U.S.-Israel 

152      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

Friendship,  made  up  of  Jewish  and  Christian  groups  opposed  to  any  peace  treaty 
in  which  Israel  relinquished  control  of  the  strategic  Golan  Heights,  lobbied  aggres- 
sively for  legislation  barring  such  use  of  American  forces.  The  lobby's  message  fit 
well  with  a  popular  disinclination  to  place  American  boys  at  risk  in  foreign  countries 
and  the  isolationist  tendencies  evident  in  the  new  Republican  Congress.  Some  25 
members  of  Congress — including  the  new  chairperson  of  the  House  International 
Relations  Committee — signed  on  to  a  statement  urging  a  full  debate  and  vote  before 
American  forces  were  sent  to  the  Golan.  The  Israeli  government,  which  explicitly 
included  the  possibility  of  an  American  peacekeeping  force  in  its  negotiations  with 
the  Syrians,  found  itself  on  the  defensive. 

After  consultation  with  Israeli  officials,  the  Conference  of  Presidents  sought  to 
defuse  the  matter.  It  issued  a  letter  to  two  Republican  senators  pronouncing  it 
"premature"  to  discuss  a  troop  deployment  that  Israel  had  not  yet  even  asked  for 
and  that  would  remain  theoretical  till  Israel  and  Syria  reached  agreement.  Some 
member  organizations  of  the  conference  complained  that  the  letter  had  been  sent 
without  their  knowledge.  Meanwhile,  NJCRAC  notified  local  community  relations 
councils  to  influence  their  congressional  representatives  to  back  delay  of  any  debate 
on  the  issue.  And  AIPAC  sent  a  letter  to  all  members  of  Congress  urging  that  "no 
public  position  nor  any  legislative  action,  for  or  against  U.S.  personnel  on  the 
Golan"  be  taken.  No  congressional  hearings  were  held  for  the  time  being. 


Like  the  question  of  American  forces  on  the  Golan,  the  perennial  issue  of  moving 
the  U.S.  embassy  from  Tel  Aviv  to  Jerusalem  had  the  potential  to  derail  the  peace 
process.  The  official  policy  of  a  long  line  of  U.S.  administrations  was  that  the 
embassy  did  belong  in  the  Israeli  capital  but  could  not  be  moved  there  until  a  peace 
treaty  clarified  the  legal  status  of  the  city.  In  early  1995,  with  the  Israeli  government 
fearful  that  any  movement  of  the  embassy  under  current  conditions  would  lead  the 
Palestinians  to  break  off  negotiations.  Senators  Alfonse  D'Amato  (R.)  and  Daniel 
Moynihan  (D.)  of  New  York  sought  to  skirt  the  problem  by  sponsoring  a  letter 
giving  the  State  Department  a  deadline  of  May  1999  to  move  the  embassy — exactly 
the  date  that  Israel  and  the  PLO  had  scheduled  for  the  conclusion  of  final-status 
talks.  AIPAC  applauded  this  formulation,  but  the  ZOA's  Morton  Klein  said, 
"Move  the  embassy  now.  Who  knows  what  it  will  be  like  in  five  years?"  Although 
93  senators  signed  on  to  the  D'Amato-Moynihan  resolution,  an  alternative  proposed 
by  Sen.  Jon  Kyi  (R.,  Ariz.),  calling  for  an  immediate  transfer  of  the  embassy, 
attracted  the  support  of  the  ZOA,  Americans  for  a  Safe  Israel,  and  the  Jewish  War 

In  a  speech  to  the  AIPAC  annual  policy  conference  in  May  1995,  Senate  majority 
leader  and  presidential  hopeful  Robert  Dole  (R.,  Kan.)  announced  that  he  was 
proposing  legislation  to  begin  construction  of  a  U.S.  embassy  in  Jerusalem  by  the 
end  of  1996,  with  the  ambassador  to  move  in  there  no  later  than  1999.  While  Israeli 
officials  at  the  conference,  including  Prime  Minister  Rabin,  studiously  avoided 

JEWISH    COMMUNAL     AFFAIRS      /      153 

comment,  AIPAC  announced  its  support.  Americans  for  Peace  Now  and  Project 
Nishma,  however,  attacked  the  proposal  as  inimical  to  the  peace  negotiations,  the 
same  position  taken  by  the  Clinton  administration.  NJCRAC,  at  a  loss  to  reconcile 
its  support  for  the  Israel-PLO  negotiations  with  its  backing  for  moving  the  embassy, 
said:  "We  support  the  goal  of  the  legislation.  We  also  support  the  Middle  East  peace 
process  and  reconciliation  between  Israel  and  her  Arab  neighbors." 

A  new  poll  of  American  Jewish  attitudes  toward  the  peace  process  was  conducted 
in  May  by  Luntz  Research  Companies,  a  firm  associated  with  the  Republican  Party 
that  had  also  done  some  work  for  Likud.  While  three-quarters  of  those  polled 
approved  of  Israel's  negotiating  policies  in  general  terms,  less  than  half  considered 
the  Israel-PLO  agreement  of  1993  a  success.  The  survey  also  indicated  that  Ameri- 
can Jews  were  almost  evenly  split  over  whether  U.S.  forces  should  monitor  the 
Golan  in  the  event  of  an  Israel-Syria  peace  treaty. 

The  annual  Salute  to  Israel  Parade  on  May  21,  1995,  was  overshadowed  by  an 
ugly  incident  that  occurred  earlier  in  the  day,  which  showed  once  again  the  potential 
for  intra-Jewish  violence  over  the  peace  process.  At  the  behest  of  Israeli  officials, 
Israel's  minister  of  communications,  Shulamit  Aloni,  an  outspoken  dove  and  secula- 
rist, addressed  a  pre-parade  breakfast  for  dignitaries  and  big  givers — many  of  them 
religiously  traditional  and  unsympathetic  to  Israel's  peace  policy.  After  a  barrage 
of  heckling  and  insults,  the  parade  chairman  charged  the  stage  and,  according  to 
Aloni,  punched  her.  He  later  denied  the  charge,  claiming  instead  that,  fearing  for 
her  safety,  he  had  sought  to  clear  the  stage.  While  there  was  universal  condemnation 
of  the  alleged  assault,  many  observers  also  faulted  the  Israeli  diplomats  who  insisted 
that  Aloni  speak  before  an  audience  that  was  sure  to  be  hostile. 

In  June,  with  funding  for  the  Palestinian  Authority  once  again  up  for  renewal, 
Jewish  groups  opposed  to  the  peace  process  argued  that  the  PLO  had  broken  its 
commitments  and  lobbied  hard  on  Capitol  Hill  for  a  cutoff  of  funds.  Reflecting  their 
perspective.  Senator  D'Amato  proposed  legislation  that  would  require  the  PLO  to 
amend  its  covenant  that  still  called  for  Israel's  destruction,  stop  terrorism,  and  take 
steps  against  accused  terrorists  before  it  could  receive  aid.  While  the  Israeli  govern- 
ment and  its  American  Jewish  backers  would  have  preferred  legislation  renewing 
PLO  funding  for  another  six  months,  they  had  to  settle  for  a  90-day  extension. 

On  June  21,  a  group  calling  itself  the  International  Rabbinical  Coalition  for  Israel, 
claiming  a  membership  of  3,000  Orthodox  rabbis,  issued  a  statement  in  New  York 
declaring  that  Israel's  peace  policy  violated  Jewish  law.  One  rabbi,  Abraham  Hecht, 
president  of  the  Rabbinical  Alliance  of  America,  said  that  it  was  permissible  to 
assassinate  Israeli  leaders  who  sought  to  hand  over  Israeli  land  to  non-Jews. 

American  and  Israeli  Jews 

The  reorientation  of  relations  between  the  Israeli  and  American  Jewish  communi- 
ties, sparked  in  part  by  the  prospect  of  a  "normalized"  Israel  at  peace  with  its 
neighbors,  continued  amid  considerable  controversy. 

Early  in  1994,  Yossi  Beilin,  Israel's  deputy  foreign  minister,  told  a  visiting  Zionist 

154      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

women's  group  that  Israel  should  no  longer  be  the  object  of  Diaspora  philanthropy. 
"If  our  economic  situation  is  better  than  in  many  of  your  countries,"  he  said,  "how 
can  we  go  on  asking  for  your  charity?"  The  women  reacted  angrily.  The  World 
Zionist  Executive  quickly  issued  a  statement  saying  that  "the  greatest  mistake  Israel 
can  make  is  to  separate  Diaspora  Jewry  from  the  State  of  Israel  and  to  callously  stop 
the  contribution  of  Diaspora  Jewry  to  the  ingathering  of  the  exiles  and  building  of 
the  State  of  Israel."  Unfazed,  Beilin  stuck  to  his  guns,  explaining  that,  in  his  view, 
Israel  had  matured  to  the  point  where  it  need  not  rely  on  outside  economic  aid. 
Therefore,  he  suggested,  the  entire  structure  of  Israel-Diaspora  relations  had  to  be 
reevaluated,  and  monies  previously  donated  to  help  the  Jewish  state  perhaps  put  to 
better  use  in  strengthening  Jewish  education  in  the  Diaspora  and  sponsoring  trips 
to  Israel  for  young  Jews. 

Inundated  with  irate  inquiries  from  American  Jewish  leaders.  Prime  Minister 
Rabin  repudiated  Beilin's  views  as  unrepresentative  of  his  government.  Quite  aside 
from  the  economic  benefit  to  Israel  from  Diaspora  philanthropy,  he  noted,  this 
transfer  of  money  was  also  "the  key  to  reinforcing  the  relationship  between  us  and 
deepening  the  connection  of  Diaspora  Jews  with  Israel."  Rabin  also  noted  that  a 
diminution  of  Diaspora  philanthropy  to  Israel  might  prompt  second  thoughts  in  the 
U.S.  Congress  about  the  $3  billion  in  aid  it  sent  to  Israel  each  year.  He  did  add, 
however,  that  fund-raising  should  be  supplemented  by  investment  in  the  IsraeH 
economy  and  by  cultural  activities  that  could  draw  the  two  Jewish  communities 

Ezer  Weizman,  the  president  of  Israel,  sought  to  deal  with  the  emerging  issues 
of  Israel-Diaspora  relations  by  announcing  plans  for  a  two-day  conference  at  his 
official  residence  in  June  1994.  The  more  than  200  invitees — one-third  Israelis, 
two-thirds  Diaspora  Jews — included  not  only  leaders  of  Jewish  organizations,  but 
also  intellectual  and  cultural  figures.  The  president's  purpose  in  convening  this 
gathering  was  clearly  to  counter  Diaspora  criticism  over  his  repeated  delegitimiza- 
tion  of  their  Jewish  viabiHty  and  his  call  for  massive  aliyah  (immigration). 

Weizman  said  that  his  plans  had  been  formulated  before  the  Beilin  controversy 
and  were  independent  of  it.  Nonetheless,  it  was  Beilin  who  provided  the  fireworks 
at  Weizman's  conference  by  calling  for  the  replacement  of  the  Jewish  Agency  and 
the  World  Zionist  Organization  with  a  new  democratic  entity,  Beit  Yisrael,  which 
would  fund  aliyah ,  visits  to  Israel  by  young  Diaspora  Jews,  and  Jewish  education 
in  the  Diaspora.  Beilin's  proposal  was  ridiculed  by  the  Diaspora  Jewish  leaders  in 
attendance,  who  commented  that  the  established  organizations  were  already  doing 
these  things.  The  Diaspora  participants  were  also  highly  critical  of  President  Weiz- 
man, who,  they  felt,  showed  a  shocking  ignorance  of  Jewish  Hfe  outside  Israel.  One 
by  one,  in  their  presentations  to  the  conference,  the  American  Jews  sought  to 
counter  dismal  stereotypes  of  Jewish  life  in  their  countries  and  suggested  that  many 
Israelis  had  at  least  as  great  a  problem  acknowledging  their  Jewishness  as  American 
Jews  did.  Shoshana  Cardin,  the  former  Conference  of  Presidents  chairwoman  and 
newly  elected  chairwoman  of  the  United  Israel  Appeal,  charged  that  it  was  insulting 

JEWISH    COMMUNAL    AFFAIRS      /      155 

for  American  Jews  to  be  viewed  as  nothing  more  than  "fodder  for  aliyah ,"  and  that 
Israelis  must  learn  "to  respect  the  integrity  of  Diaspora  communities." 

Although  the  only  practical  outcome  of  the  conference  was  President  Weizman's 
creation  of  a  12-person  committee  to  devise  ways  for  Israel  to  enhance  Jewish 
continuity  in  the  Diaspora,  the  publicity  the  conference  generated,  coming  in  the 
wake  of  the  BeiHn  incident,  thrust  the  question  of  Israel- Diaspora  relations  into  the 
forefront  of  American  Jewish  communal  life. 

In  February  1995,  the  American  Jewish  Committee  board  of  governors,  meeting 
in  Jerusalem,  issued  a  policy  statement  on  the  subject  that  stressed  the  mutual 
responsibility  and  interdependence  of  the  two  communities.  It  firmly  rejected  the 
Beilin  view  that  philanthropy  was  outmoded,  praised  American  Jewish  immigrants 
while  recognizing  that  mass  aliyah  from  the  United  States  was  unlikely,  supported 
programs  that  bring  young  Diaspora  Jews  to  Israel,  and  suggested  greater  coopera- 
tion between  IsraeH  and  American  Jews  in  devising  ways  of  insuring  Jewish  continu- 
ity in  both  countries. 

A  more  analytical  treatment  of  the  subject  was  provided  by  Samuel  Norich,  the 
former  director  of  YIVO,  in  an  exhaustive  86-page  study,  fVhat  Will  Bind  Us  Now? 
A  Report  on  the  Institutional  Ties  Between  Israel  and  American  Jewry,  sponsored 
by  the  Center  for  Middle  East  Peace  and  Economic  Cooperation.  After  tracing  the 
steady  decline  in  American  Jewish  philanthropy  for  Israel  and  American  Jewry's 
mounting  interest  in  its  own  cultural  survival,  Norich  analyzed  five  proposals — one 
of  them  Yossi  Beilin's — for  shifting  the  institutional  relationships  between  the  two 
Jewish  communities. 

In  June  1995,  one  of  the  five  proposals  discussed  by  Norich  on  the  basis  of  hearsay 
— a  plan  to  merge  the  operations  of  the  Council  of  Jewish  Federations  and  the 
United  Jewish  Appeal — was  made  pubHc  for  the  first  time.  The  result  of  a  two-year 
joint  study  by  the  two  organizations,  it  suggested  that  UJA  end  its  tie  to  the 
American  Jewish  Joint  Distribution  Committee  and  become  the  fund-raising  arm 
of  the  federation  network  for  international,  national,  and  local  causes.  Although  this 
merger  plan  had  the  clear  benefit  of  streamlining  costs,  it  raised  the  concern  that 
broadening  UJA's  focus  from  Israel-oriented  to  all-purpose  fund-raising  could  lead 
to  a  further  diminution  of  the  percentage  of  the  philanthropic  dollar  going  to  Israel, 
a  danger  underlined  by  a  provision  that  GIF,  whose  major  concern  was  domestic 
Jewish  causes,  would  control  at  least  40  percent  of  the  new  UJA  board.  For  the 
moment,  however,  this  proposal  was  only  in  the  discussion  stage. 


The  choice  of  a  new  chairperson  for  the  Jewish  Agency — the  body  that  receives 
and  disburses  the  money  collected  by  UJA  for  Israel — turned  into  a  naked  power 
struggle  between  the  Israeli  government  and  Diaspora  fund-raisers.  In  February 
1994,  chairman  Simcha  Dinitz,  under  indictment  for  financial  irregularities,  took  a 
leave  of  absence,  and  Israel's  governing  Labor  Party,  with  the  approval  of  the 

156      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

Diaspora  leaders,  chose  Yehiel  Leket,  head  of  the  Youth  Aliyah  department,  to 
replace  him  on  an  interim  basis.  But  a  year  later — to  the  chagrin  of  the  Rabin 
government — the  "advise  and  consent"  committee  of  the  Jewish  Agency  board  of 
governors,  controlled  by  the  Diaspora  leaders,  rejected  Leket  for  the  permanent 
position,  choosing  instead  Avraham  Burg,  a  Labor  Party  member  of  the  Knesset 
who  was  extremely  popular  in  the  United  States.  Leket  withdrew  his  candidacy, 
making  Burg's  election  in  June  1995  by  the  World  Zionist  Organization  meeting  in 
Jerusalem  a  foregone  conclusion.  Burg,  espousing  the  slogan  "one  people,  one 
body,"  announced  his  support  for  a  merger  of  the  WZO  and  the  Jewish  Agency. 
At  the  Jewish  Agency  Assembly,  which  was  held  at  the  same  time.  Burg  distributed 
a  booklet  entitled  Brit  Am,  detailing  his  ideas  for  joint  educational  programs  to 
enhance  the  Jewishness  of  Israeli  and  American  Jews,  including  a  Jewish  open 
university,  satelHte  linkages,  and  a  Jewish  peace  corps. 

The  Continuity  Debate 

The  prominence  of  Jewish  identity  issues  in  the  reevaluation  of  American  Jewish- 
Israeli  ties  underscored  the  ongoing  concern  of  American  Jewry  about  its  declining 
numbers.  Ever  since  the  CJF-sponsored  1990  National  Jewish  Population  Survey, 
which  showed  an  over-50-percent  intermarriage  rate  for  young  Jews  and  other 
unmistakable  signs  of  demographic  erosion,  many  in  the  Jewish  community  ago- 
nized over  what  to  do.  Israeli  prime  minister  Yitzhak  Rabin  stated  the  challenge 
at  the  1994  CJF  General  Assembly:  With  the  opening  of  free  Jewish  emigration  from 
the  former  Soviet  Union,  the  slogan  was  no  longer  "Let  My  People  Go,"  but  "Let 
My  People  Be  Jewish." 

Ironically,  one  of  the  ways  suggested  to  attack  the  problem  was  an  American 
version  of  the  Yossi  Beilin  approach,  a  strategy  that  would  turn  American  Jewish 
energies  inward.  "Burden  of  Peace:  American  Jews  Grapple  with  an  Identity  Crisis 
as  Peril  to  Israel  Ebbs,"  was  the  front-page  headline  in  the  Wall  Street  Journal 
(September  14,  1994).  Emphasizing  that  "American  Jewish  leaders  are  casting  about 
for  a  new  way  for  the  U.S.  Jewish  community  to  define  itself,  apart  from  Israel," 
the  article  noted  that  many  Jews  wanted  philanthropic  dollars  diverted  away  from 
Israel  and  devoted,  instead,  to  domestic  Jewish  continuity  causes.  But  the  reporter 
found  no  consensus  either  on  which  non-Israel-related  issues  could  enhance  the 
Jewishness  of  young  people  or  on  how  to  address  them. 

The  organized  Jewish  community  sponsored  conferences  and  pubhshed  reports 
arguing  for  changes  to  revitalize  American  Jewish  life.  The  Wilstein  Institute  of 
Jewish  Policy  Studies  released  a  pamphlet  of  essays  about  the  need  for  federations 
and  synagogues  to  cooperate  and  pool  their  talents  to  provide  compelling  Jewish 
programming.  The  Cohen  Center  for  Modern  Jewish  Studies  at  Brandeis  University 
published  a  report  by  Gary  Tobin,  its  director,  that  sharply  criticized  the  panoply 
of  American  Jewish  organizations,  arguing  that  they  should  reorient  their  priorities 
to  Jewish  continuity  or  else  consider  going  out  of  business.  Responding  to  Tobin's 

JEWISH     COMMUNAL     AFFAIRS      /      157 

challenge,  leaders  of  the  major  organizations  agreed  with  him  in  principle,  while 
insisting  that  their  own  agencies  were  already  in  the  process  of  changing  to  meet 
the  new  challenges. 

Much  was  expected  from  the  North  American  Commission  on  Jewish  Identity 
and  Continuity,  an  88-member  body  of  experts  created  by  the  Council  of  Jewish 
Federations  in  1992  to  prepare  a  series  of  recommendations  for  presentation  to  the 
GIF  General  Assembly  in  November  1994.  The  36-page  draft  report  distributed  at 
theGA  asserted  that  Jewish  identity  was  "the  bedrock  of  Jewish  continuity."  Its 
suggestions  for  improvement  included  maintaining  Jewish  identity  as  a  top  commu- 
nal priority;  research  and  evaluation  to  find  out  which  Jewish-identity  programs 
were  most  effective;  greater  focus  on  the  needs  of  individual  Jews  rather  than  on 
institutional  imperatives;  a  balance  between  "formative"  and  "transformative"  Jew- 
ish experiences;  and  taking  steps  to  insure  that  young  Jews  maintain  Jewish  involve- 
ment even  after  bar/bat  mitzvah. 

A  distinct  lack  of  enthusiasm  greeted  the  report.  For  one  thing,  it  made  no 
attempt  to  define  Jewish  identity.  For  another,  critics  charged  that  it  lacked  specif- 
ics. As  Rabbi  David  Elcott,  academic  vice-president  of  CLAL  (National  Jewish 
Center  for  Learning  and  Leadership)  put  it:  "If  the  report  was  talking  about  enhanc- 
ing health,  we  would  expect  recommendations,  such  as  'don't  smoke,  exercise.'  " 
Defending  the  work  of  the  commission,  Jonathan  Woocher,  executive  vice-president 
of  the  Jewish  Education  Service  of  North  America,  who  supervised  the  preparation 
of  the  report,  said  that  specific  priorities  could  not  be  dictated  by  a  national  body, 
but  would  have  to  emerge  from  local  Jewish  leaders  familiar  with  the  situation  in 
specific  communities.  Martin  Kraar,  executive  vice-president  of  CJF,  agreed:  "We 
have  federations  going  in  a  variety  of  directions,  and  CJF  has  not  addressed  the 
effort  except  to  do  some  networking  of  heads  of  local  continuity  commissions." 


There  continued  to  be  considerable  interest  in  promoting  trips  to  Israel  as  a  means 
to  kindle  a  Jewish  spark  in  American  Jewish  teenagers  and  young  adults.  Under 
large  grants  from  the  CRB  Foundation  and  other  organizations  and  individuals,  the 
UJA  sponsored  programs  and  ran  media  advertisements  in  several  Jewish  communi- 
ties to  interest  young  Jews  in  visiting  Israel.  In  addition,  fully  45  percent  of  the 
money  spent  by  the  WZO  Joint  Authority  for  Jewish  Zionist  Education  went  for 
subsidizing  programs  in  Israel  for  Diaspora  young  people.  So  impressed  were  many 
American  Jewish  leaders  with  the  Israel  experience  as  a  key  to  Jewish  transforma- 
tion that  UJA  executive  vice-president  Brian  Lurie  suggested  that  the  State  of  Israel 
itself  allocate  $10  million — to  be  matched  by  both  the  Jewish  Agency  and  American 
Jewry — toward  the  creation  of  a  $30-million  "megafund"  that  would  guarantee  a 
trip  to  Israel  for  every  American  Jewish  teenager. 

There  were  skeptics.  For  one  thing,  it  was  noted  that  all  the  publicity  and 
subsidies  encouraging  visits  to  Israel  had  not  augmented  the  number  of  young 

158      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

people  going.  As  Howard  Weisband,  secretary  general  of  the  Jewish  Agency,  ex- 
plained, children  growing  up  in  homes  remote  from  Jewish  life  were  indifferent  to 
Israel  and  had  no  desire  to  visit  there,  no  matter  how  low  the  cost  (Jerusalem 
Report,  July  27,  1995).  And  even  for  those  who  could  be  prevailed  upon  to  go,  the 
impact  would  surely  be  greatest  on  those  who  already  came  with  some  Jewish 
consciousness  and  knowledge.  Those  landing  in  Israel  without  previous  exposure  to 
anything  Jewish  were  all  too  likely  to  react  like  the  teenager  who  told  a  reporter: 
"When  I  got  off  the  plane  in  Israel,  I  felt  just  Uke  I  do  when  I  go  to  Florida.  Everyone 
told  me  I  would  feel  an  instant  connection,  but  even  when  I  visited  the  Wailing  Wall, 
I  still  didn't  feel  anything  special"  (Wall  Street  Journal,  September  14,  1994). 

Another  suggested  antidote  to  the  erosion  of  Jewish  identity  was  Jewish  educa- 
tion. Like  trips  to  Israel,  proposed  innovations  in  the  transmission  of  Jewish  knowl- 
edge and  commitment  had  received  considerable  new  funding  from  federations, 
Jewish  foundations,  and  individual  philanthropists  since  the  disturbing  results  of  the 
1990  National  Jewish  Population  Survey  became  known.  Leading  the  way  were  the 
Cleveland  federation — which  was  spending  one-third  of  its  domestic  budget  on 
education — Morton  Mandel's  Council  on  Initiatives  in  Jewish  Education,  and  the 
Wexner  Foundation. 

The  relationship  of  Jewish  education  to  Jewish  continuity  was  the  subject  of  a 
major  1994  study  by  Seymour  Martin  Lipset,  The  Power  of  Jewish  Education, 
sponsored  by  the  Wilstein  Institute.  Analyzing  data  from  the  1990  NJPS,  Lipset 
found  not  only  a  clear  correlation  between  Jewish  schooling  and  Jewishness,  but  also 
what  he  called  "the  iron  law  of 'the  more  the  more.'  "  By  that  he  meant:  "The  longer 
Jews  have  been  exposed  to  Jewish  education,  the  greater  their  commitment  to  the 
community,  to  some  form  of  the  religion,  and  to  Israel."  Lipset  cautioned,  however, 
that  this  did  not  necessarily  establish  a  causal  relationship,  since  the  families  that 
gave  their  children  more  Jewish  education  might  have  done  so  because  they  were 
already  Jewishly  committed.  Nevertheless,  Lipset  concluded,  "the  evidence  is  con- 
gruent with  the  hypothesis  that  Jewish  education  makes  a  difference." 

Yet  despite  all  the  attention  paid  to  the  subject,  an  analysis  of  American  Jewish 
education  by  J.  J.  Goldberg  concluded  that  "countless  Jewish  kids  have  yet  to  see 
their  schools  made  any  more  engaging;  so  far,  the  revolution  hasn't  reached  them" 
(Jerusalem  Report,  October  6,  1994).  Noting  that  Jewish  all-day  schools  seemed  to 
be  the  most  successful  in  transferring  the  tradition  to  the  next  generation,  Goldberg 
pointed  out  that  the  great  majority  of  Jewish  parents  rejected  such  schools  for  their 
children,  not  primarily  because  of  the  cost,  but  on  the  ground  that  such  a  "segre- 
gated" education  would  hamper  the  students'  entry  into  the  American  mainstream. 
As  for  supplementary  Jewish  education,  one  reason  for  its  shortcomings  was  the 
teachers'  lack  of  training.  A  study  conducted  in  Atlanta,  Baltimore,  and  Milwaukee 
by  the  Council  for  Initiatives  in  Jewish  Education  found  that  most  of  the  teachers 
had  had  virtually  no  Jewish  schooling  since  their  own  bar/bat  mitzvahs. 

The  community's  new  focus  on  Jewish  continuity  also  highlighted  Jews  on  the 
college  campus.  Efforts  over  the  previous  few  years  to  reinvigorate  Hillel,  the 

JEWISH    COMMUNAL    AFFAIRS      /      159 

association  of  Jewish  college  students,  bore  fruit  at  the  beginning  of  1995  when  the 
Board  of  Delegates  of  the  Council  of  Jewish  Federations  voted  overwhelmingly  for 
local  federations  to  accept  "collective  responsibility"  for  Jewish  campus  activities 
— in  much  the  same  way  that  the  federations  had  allocated  responsibility  for  the 
absorption  of  Soviet  Jewish  immigrants  in  the  United  States.  In  practical  terms,  this 
meant  that  communities  would  contribute  to  Hillel  on  the  basis  of  their  size  and 
income.  While  the  vote  was  officially  nonbinding,  it  was  likely  to  be  implemented 
by  almost  all  the  federations.  In  addition,  total  funding  for  Hillel,  from  federations 
and  other  sources,  was  expected  to  rise  from  $21  million  to  $50  million  over  the  next 
seven  years.  Richard  Joel,  Hillel's  international  director,  thanked  the  Board  of 
Delegates  "for  triggering  a  Jewish  renaissance." 

Symptomatic  of  the  growing  interest  in  supporting  Jewish  cultural  and  spiritual 
renewal  through  higher  education,  two  institutions — neighbors  on  New  York's 
West  Side — announced  major  developments.  In  October  1994,  the  Jewish  Theologi- 
cal Seminary  received  a  gift  of  $15  million  for  a  graduate  school  of  Jewish  education. 
And  in  May  1995,  Columbia  University  broke  ground  for  a  projected  $6-million 
Center  for  Jewish  Life. 

Whether  Jewish  institutions  should  reach  out  to  intermarried  families  remained 
a  controversial  aspect  of  the  Jewish  continuity  debate.  Despite  the  misgivings  of 
some  Jewish  leaders,  who  felt  that  the  limited  resources  available  should  be  used 
primarily  to  reinforce  the  Jewish  loyalties  of  those  already  affiliated  to  some  degree 
with  the  Jewish  community,  others — including  powerful  figures  in  the  federation 
world — opposed  consigning  the  intermarried  to  Jewish  oblivion.  It  was  this  second 
school  of  thought  that  dominated  the  CJF  Task  Force  on  the  Intermarried  and 
Jewish  Affiliation,  which  issued  a  report  in  1994  warning  that  failure  to  engage  the 
intermarried  in  Jewish  life  meant  "disfranchising  a  significant  segment  of  the  popu- 
lation." According  to  the  report,  which  described  what  some  communities  were 
already  doing  for  the  intermarried,  the  Jewish  community  needed  to  show  greater 
sensitivity,  respect,  and  understanding  of  such  families,  or  else  risk  losing  them  and 
their  financial  contributions.  The  chairperson  of  the  task  force  noted  that  almost  all 
its  members  had  intermarried  relatives. 

For  all  the  undoubted  successes  registered  under  the  banner  of  Jewish  continuity, 
it  remained  to  be  seen  whether  such  efforts  would  make  a  significant  difference  in 
the  pattern  of  American  Jewish  life.  In  a  study  of  American  Philanthropy  in  the 
1990s,  Brandeis  sociologist  Gary  Tobin  found  that  "Jewish  continuity"  did  not 
excite  potential  donors,  who  could  see  no  concrete  evidence  that  the  money  already 
put  into  building  Jewish  identity  had  had  any  impact.  In  fact,  many  suspected — 
in  Tobin's  words — that  "continuity"  was  "only  the  latest  in  a  long  series  of  crises 
generated  by  the  fund-raising  system." 

Seymour  Martin  Lipset  and  Earl  Raab,  in  Jews  and  the  New  American  Scene 
(Harvard  University  Press,  1995),  questioned  the  entire  rationale  of  continuity 
campaigns,  suggesting  that  the  integrative  forces  of  American  life  could  turn  out  to 
be  too  strong  for  Jewish  "social  engineering"  to  combat,  especially  in  Jewish  circles 

160      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

devoid  of  spiritual  roots.  They  foresaw  a  21st-century  American  Jewish  community 
substantially  reduced  in  numbers,  albeit  made  up  of  Jews  "strongly  and  visibly 
committed  to  the  tribal  and  religious  depth  of  Jewish  tradition." 

Religious  Developments 

If  Lipset  and  Raab  were  right,  and  the  community's  Jewish  future  depended 
largely  on  the  continuing  power  of  the  Jewish  tradition,  the  Jewish  religious  move- 
ments had  a  vital  role  to  play  in  insuring  continuity.  Yet  each  of  those  movements 
was  plagued  with  internal  conflict  over  basic  issues  of  theology  and  practice. 


In  1994  Congregation  Beth  Adam  in  Cincinnati  apphed  for  membership  in  the 
Reform  movement's  Union  of  American  Hebrew  Congregations  (UAHC).  This 
congregation,  whose  rabbi  was  a  graduate  of  Reform's  Hebrew  Union  College 
(HUC)  and  a  member  of  its  Central  Conference  of  American  Rabbis  (CCAR),  called 
itself  "humanist,"  and  had  removed  all  references  to  God  from  the  services.  The 
Reform  movement  was  now  faced  with  a  fundamental  challenge:  Did  the  Reform 
principle  of  the  freedom  to  practice  Judaism  as  one  saw  fit  include  the  right  to 
exclude  God?  When  four  Reform  synagogues  located  near  Beth  Adam  urged  a 
rejection  of  its  application,  the  congregation  responded  that  it  was  "being  castigated 
for  exercising  the  freedom  of  worship."  An  opinion  issued  by  the  CCAR  Responsa 
Committee  and  written  by  Rabbi  W.  Gunther  Plaut  argued  that,  while  Reform 
accepted  diversity,  Beth  Adam  had  overstepped  the  limit  and  should  not  be  admit- 
ted. But  a  minority  opinion  authored  by  Prof  Eugene  Mihaly  countered:  "Exclu- 
sion, ostracism,  mindless  stringency  to  appease  the  traditionalists,  institutional  coer- 
cion, are  alien  to  Reform  Judaism."  In  June  the  UAHC  board  overwhelmingly 
rejected  the  apphcation. 

A  survey  of  "Emerging  Worship  and  Music  Trends  in  UAHC  Congregations," 
released  early  in  1995,  confirmed  the  widespread  impression  that  many  Reform 
synagogues  had  readopted  certain  traditional  practices  that  Classical  Reform  had 
eliminated.  There  was  now  more  Hebrew  in  the  service,  wearing  of  kippah  and  tallit 
was  more  widespread,  singing  along  with  the  cantor  had  become  popular,  and  a 
two-day  Rosh  Hashanah  was  catching  on.  Suggesting  that  the  influx  of  members 
brought  up  in  Orthodox  and  Conservative  homes  had  something  to  do  with  these 
changes,  the  author  of  the  study  also  cited  the  changing  needs  of  Reform  Jews: 
"Expressions  of  personal  spirituality  are  far  more  acceptable  in  America  today  than 
they  were  30  years  ago.  If  we  perpetuated  a  19th-century  model,  we'd  be  failing." 

Another  symptom  of  turning  away  from  Classical  Reform  was  the  CCAR  deci- 
sion in  June  1994  to  develop  a  comprehensive  new  statement  on  the  relation  of  the 
movement  to  Israel  and  Zionism.  There  was  a  clear  need  for  this:  early  Reform  had 
been  sharply  hostile  to  the  Zionist  movement,  and,  while  the  bulk  of  the  Reform 

JEWISH    COMMUNAL    AFFAIRS      /      161 

rabbinate  and  laity  had  come  to  support  the  Jewish  state,  there  was  no  authoritative 
Reform  document  on  the  subject. 

However,  even  in  its  contemporary  pro-Zionist  incarnation.  Reform  objected 
strongly  to  the  lack  of  religious  pluralism  for  Jews  in  Israel.  In  the  fall  of  1994,  when 
the  Labor  government  in  Israel  sought  to  bring  the  Orthodox  Shas  Party  into  the 
coalition  so  as  to  broaden  its  mandate  for  securing  Middle  East  peace,  the  Reform 
movement,  both  in  Israel  and  the  United  States,  reacted  with  fury.  Despite  its  own 
strong  support  for  the  peace  process.  Reform  felt  it  more  important  that  Labor  not 
succumb  to  the  Shas  request  for  a  law  nuUifying  any  Supreme  Court  decision 
challenging  the  Orthodox  monopoly  of  Israeli  Judaism.  Soon  thereafter,  the  Associ- 
ation of  Reform  Zionists  of  America  (ARZA)  announced  a  campaign  to  raise  $2 
million  to  persuade  the  IsraeH  government  to  recognize  Reform  marriages  per- 
formed there. 

In  January  1995,  ARZA  managed  to  get  the  American  Zionist  Movement  to  pass 
a  resolution  favoring  religious  pluralism  in  Israel.  That  March,  200  Reform  rabbis 
holding  their  annual  CCAR  convention  in  Israel  insisted  on  conducting  a  Reform 
prayer  service,  men  and  women  together,  at  the  southern  edge  of  the  Western  Wall 
(they  were  interrupted  only  by  the  news  media).  Afterward  they  presented  the  case 
for  religious  pluralism  to  the  leader  of  the  Likud  opposition,  Benjamin  Netanyahu, 
who  disappointed  them  by  affirming  his  support  for  the  status  quo. 

In  1995  Rabbi  Alexander  Schindler,  the  president  of  the  UAHC  since  1973  — 
known  for  his  flamboyant  style  and  such  controversial  policies  as  outreach  to  the 
unchurched  and  acceptance  of  patriUneal  descent  as  a  sufficient  criterion  for  Jewish- 
ness — announced  his  retirement.  Elected  to  replace  him  was  Rabbi  Eric  Yoflie. 
While  the  contest  between  Yoflie  and  Rabbi  Peter  Knobel,  his  closest  competitor, 
was  portrayed  in  the  media  as  a  choice  between  Reform's  social-action  thrust 
(Yoflie)  and  the  new  interest  in  deepened  spirituality  (Knobel),  Yoflie  insisted  after 
his  election  that  matters  of  the  spirit  would  be  given  high  priority. 


The  role  of  sexuahty  in  Judaism  continued  to  divide  the  Conservative  movement. 
In  April  1994,  an  1 1-member  commission  on  human  sexuality  set  up  by  the  Rabbini- 
cal Assembly  two  years  earher  sent  its  draft  report  to  the  movement's  Committee 
on  Law  and  Standards.  While  the  creation  of  this  commission  had  been  triggered 
by  a  controversy  over  reevaluating  the  traditional  negative  Jewish  attitude  toward 
homosexuality,  the  report  focused  on  the  broader  issue  of  nonmarital  sex. 

Frowning  upon  casual  sex,  the  report  suggested  that  teenagers  "need  to  refrain 
from  sexual  intercourse,  for  they  cannot  honestly  deal  with  its  implications  or 
results."  Sexual  relations  between  unmarried  adults  were  deemed  acceptable  if  they 
were  part  of  "an  ongoing,  loving  relationship"  in  which  sex  was  not  "simply  pleasur- 
able release"  but  reflected  the  realization  that  people  are  created  in  the  image  of 
God.  Partners  were  called  upon  to  remain  faithful  to  each  other  for  the  length  of 

162      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

the  relationship.  To  prevent  the  spread  of  AIDS,  partners  should  have  themselves 
tested  and  use  condoms.  Adherence  to  these  guidelines,  the  report  concluded,  could 
give  nonmarital  relations  "a  measure  of  holiness,  even  if  not  the  full  portion  availa- 
ble in  marriage,"  which  creates  the  families  that  insure  the  Jewish  future. 

As  for  the  specific  issue  of  homosexuality,  the  report  urged  maintaining  the  status 
quo  "until  further  study":  sexually  active  homosexuals  should  not  be  allowed  to 
become  rabbis  or  cantors;  rabbis  should  not  perform  ceremonies  recognizing  rela- 
tionships between  homosexuals;  gay  and  lesbian  Jews  nevertheless  should  be  wel- 
comed in  Conservative  synagogues.  In  a  letter  appended  to  the  report,  the  chairper- 
son acknowledged  that  the  commission  had  been  unable  to  resolve  the  "fundamental 
tension"  between  traditional  teachings  and  current  reality. 

The  draft  report  was  discussed  intensively  at  the  Rabbinical  Assembly  (RA) 
annual  convention  in  May,  and  recordings  of  the  discussions  were  made  available 
to  the  members  of  the  Committee  on  Law  and  Standards,  which  would,  in  turn, 
determine  movement  policy.  At  the  convention,  however,  rabbis  sympathetic  to  gay 
rights  offered  a  resolution  calling  on  the  RA  placement  committee  not  to  discrimi- 
nate against  gay  rabbis  seeking  pulpits — a  matter  not  dealt  with  by  the  report.  The 
resolution  was  withdrawn,  however,  when  more  traditionalist  members  challenged 
it.  In  the  weeks  following  the  convention,  the  report  on  nonmarital  sexuality  was 
strongly  attacked  by  Orthodox  groups  as  well  as  by  the  Union  for  Traditional 
Judaism,  a  group  made  up  of  formerly  Conservative  Jews  who  had  left  the  move- 
ment because  of  discomfort  with  what  they  felt  were  its  deviations  from  tradition. 

The  role  of  women  also  aroused  controversy  among  Conservative  Jews.  A  decade 
after  the  movement  began  to  ordain  women  as  rabbis,  there  were  persistent  com- 
plaints of  gender  discrimination.  The  issue  came  to  a  head  in  September  1994  when 
47  female  rabbis  and  cantors  formally  charged  that  the  Canadian  Conservative 
movement  had  refused  to  distribute  an  issue  of  the  Camp  Ramah  magazine  because 
it  featured  an  article  about  female  former  campers  who  were  now  rabbis  and  cantors. 
The  coordinator  of  the  protest  claimed  that  the  leadership  of  the  U.S.  movement 
had  allowed  this  to  happen  out  of  fear  of  losing  financial  contributions  from  north 
of  the  border,  a  charge  denied  by  the  Jewish  Theological  Seminary.  At  its  1995 
annual  convention,  the  Rabbinical  Assembly  passed  a  resolution  acknowledging  a 
pattern  of  discrimination  against  its  female  members  and  instructed  the  movement's 
Placement  Commission  to  treat  men  and  women  equally. 


Marking  the  40th  anniversary  of  its  official  founding  and  the  20th  year  since  the 
establishment  of  its  rabbinical  seminary,  the  Reconstructionist  movement  published 
a  new  prayer  book  for  Sabbath  and  holidays.  Compiled  by  a  committee  comprising 
an  equal  number  of  rabbis  and  lay  people  and  termed  "the  first  post-modern  prayer 
book"  by  the  editor-in-chief,  the  prayer  book  included  selections  from  contemporary 
Jewish  and  non-Jewish  sources.  Theologically,  the  compilation  maintained  Recon- 

JEWISH    COMMUNAL    AFFAIRS      /      163 

structionist  tradition  by  omitting  any  reference  to  the  doctrines  of  the  chosen  people 
and  the  personal  messiah.  On  other  controversial  concepts,  readers  were  presented 
options  to  choose  from,  including  traditional  formulations  that  had  been  dropped 
in  the  first  Reconstructionist  prayer  book. 

The  movement  continued  to  experience  difficulties  in  defining  itself,  even  as  the 
number  of  its  congregations  increased  across  the  country.  At  a  Reconstructionist 
conference  in  November  1994,  at  which  the  reasons  for  the  lack  of  clarity  were 
debated  at  length,  some  suggested  factors  were  the  large  numbers  of  members  who 
were  brought  up  in  other  movements  or  with  no  Jewish  background,  the  fact  that 
other  movements  had  appropriated  certain  practices  instituted  by  Reconstruction- 
ism — inclusion  of  women  in  ritual,  equality  for  homosexuals,  and  Hturgical  open- 
ness, for  example — and  the  difficulty  of  squaring  the  individualist  impulse  with 
Reconstructionism's  quest  for  community.  Developments  in  Reconstructionism 
were  not  without  their  critics.  The  son-in-law  and  daughter  of  movement  founder 
Mordecai  Kaplan — Rabbi  Ira  Eisenstein  and  Judith  Kaplan  Eisenstein — insisted 
that  Kaplan,  a  rationalist,  would  have  been  appalled  at  the  turn  to  mysticism  evident 
in  parts  of  the  movement,  and,  as  a  strait-laced  Puritan  on  sexual  matters,  would 
have  been  shocked  at  the  acceptance  of  homosexuality. 


The  success  of  Orthodoxy  since  the  1960s  in  holding  its  young  people,  influencing 
outsiders,  and  providing  a  model  of  intensive  Jewish  life  had  also  generated  internal 
tensions  over  whether  to  cooperate  with — and  risk  legitimizing — non-Orthodox 
groups,  or  to  "go  it  alone."  The  1994  collapse  of  the  Synagogue  Council  of  America 
— which  had,  if  only  in  a  nominal  sense,  collectively  represented  all  the  American 
Jewish  religious  movements — marked  a  major  victory  for  the  Orthodox  separatists, 
who  had  for  over  40  years  called  for  the  Orthodox  to  shun  it.  Thus,  in  November, 
at  the  national  convention  of  the  Union  of  Orthodox  Jewish  Congregations  of 
America  (UOJCA) — itself  a  member  organization  of  the  defunct  Synagogue  Coun- 
cil— executive  director  Rabbi  Pinchas  Stolper  publicly  recited  the  traditional 
sheheheyanu  benediction  on  its  demise,  blessing  God  "who  has  kept  us  alive  and 
sustained  us  to  reach  this  day."  While  the  immediate  cause  of  the  Synagogue 
Council's  demise  was  lack  of  funding,  many  observers  believed  that  the  Orthodox 
veto  on  decisions  had  hampered  the  council's  functioning  and  rendered  it  ultimately 

The  sense  among  many  that  Orthodoxy  was  strong  enough  to  distance  itself  from 
umbrella  organizations  that  offended  its  sensitivities  led  the  three  Orthodox  organi- 
zations in  the  American  Zionist  Movement  to  "suspend"  their  membership  in  AZM 
in  January  1995,  after  it  passed  a  resolution  urging  the  recognition  of  non-Orthodox 
forms  of  Judaism  in  Israel.  When  a  similar  resolution  had  been  brought  up  by  the 
UAHC  at  the  NJCRAC  plenum  in  February  1994,  the  UOJCA  threatened  to  quit, 
a  move  that  would  have  left  NJCRAC  with  no  Orthodox  representation  at  a  time 

164      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

when  the  peace  process  was  at  the  top  of  the  agenda.  The  motion  was  not  brought 
to  a  vote. 

The  rightward  shift  in  Orthodoxy's  center  of  gravity  was  felt  even  in  the  Rabbini- 
cal Council  of  America  (RCA),  the  organization  of  modern  Orthodox  rabbis.  In 
early  1995,  it  expelled  one  of  its  members,  a  rabbi  from  Atlanta,  for  cochairing  the 
rabbinic  fellowship  of  the  Union  for  Traditional  Judaism,  many  of  whose  members 
were  not  Orthodox.  RCA  leaders  denied  that  this  was  the  start  of  a  "witchhunt." 

The  internal  Orthodox  tensions  also  affected  Yeshiva  University.  Years  before, 
the  university's  secular  graduate  schools  had  been  legally  separated  from  the  rab- 
binical school  so  that  they  might  be  ehgible  for  government  funding.  In  late  1994, 
it  became  known  that  homosexual  clubs  existed  at  some  of  the  graduate  schools, 
and,  like  other  student  clubs,  they  were  receiving  funding  from  student-activity  fees. 
Caught  between  the  traditional  Jewish  aversion  to  homosexuahty  and  the  prospect 
of  loss  of  funds  from  government  and  private  sources  if  gays  could  claim  discrimina- 
tion, university  president  Norman  Lamm  decided:  "As  a  rabbi,  I  cannot  and  do  not 
condone  homosexual  behavior,  which  is  expressly  prohibited  by  Jewish  law.  But  as 
president  of  a  nondenominational  institution  that  must  accommodate  people  who 
reflect  a  wide  range  of  backgrounds  and  behefs,  it  is  my  duty  to  assure  that  the 
procedures  of  Yeshiva  University  conform  to  the  applicable  provisions  of  secular 
law."  His  decision  brought  a  storm  of  protest  from  both  outside  and  within  the 
institution,  as  Orthodox  critics  charged  that  Lamm  had  subordinated  religious 
values  to  political  correctness  and  financial  expediency.  A  New  York  Times  article 
(May  10,  1995)  contrasting  Yeshiva's  approach  with  Notre  Dame's  refusal  to  coun- 
tenance gay  clubs  had  the  effect  of  making  it  seem,  to  many  in  the  Orthodox  world, 
that  Yeshiva  was  less  devoted  to  rehgious  doctrine  than  was  a  Catholic  university. 

The  sectarian  Orthodox  community,  for  all  its  attempts  to  avoid  those  modern 
values  deemed  inimical  to  Judaism,  could  not  help  but  be  influenced  by  the  social 
forces  undermining  the  institution  of  marriage.  The  rising  incidence  of  divorce 
among  the  Orthodox  was  complicated  by  the  halakhic  requirement  that  the  husband 
give  the  wife  a  Jewish  divorce  document  {get)  of  his  own  free  will  before  she  was 
allowed  to  remarry,  a  situation  that  enabled  unscrupulous  men  to  extort  money  or 
custody  rights  as  a  condition  for  issuing  the  get.  In  the  spring  of  1995,  the  news 
broke  of  a  new,  spiteful  tactic  being  used  by  a  few  husbands  against  their  estranged 
wives.  Based  on  a  provision  in  ancient  Jewish  law  that  had  been  a  dead  letter  for 
centuries,  these  men  claimed  that  they  had  married  off  their  young — below  age  12 
— daughters  in  absentia,  and  would  not  disclose  to  their  wives  or  to  the  girls  the 
identity  of  the  "husband"  or  the  witnesses  to  the  act.  The  practical  effect  was  to 
prevent  any  of  the  girls  from  marrying — without  a  "divorce"  from  the  unknown 

While  there  was  considerable  controversy  over  the  exact  number  of  such  cases, 
the  tactic — called  in  Hebrew  kiddushei  ketanah  — was  greeted  with  universal  con- 
demnation by  the  community.  Yet  Orthodox  rabbinical  circles  could  come  up  with 
no  clear  strategy  to  combat  it  till  the  end  of  June,  when  an  oral  decision  by  a  noted 

JEWISH    COMMUNAL     AFFAIRS      /      165 

Jerusalem  rabbinic  scholar — since  deceased — became  known,  stating  that  the  fa- 
ther in  such  cases  had  no  credibility,  and  that  the  claim  to  have  married  off  his 
daughter  could  safely  be  ignored. 


It  was  the  cover  story  in  New  York  magazine  (February  14,  1994):  "Holy  War: 
Ego.  Ambition.  Fanaticism.  As  the  Lubavitcher  rebbe — the  Messiah  to  many  —  lies 
grievously  ill,  the  faithful  fight  over  the  future."  Menachem  Schneerson,  the  92-year- 
old  charismatic  leader  of  the  Lubavitch  Hassidic  sect,  had  been  incapacitated  by  a 
1992  stroke,  unable  to  speak  and  paralyzed  on  his  right  side.  Since  he  was  childless 
and  had  never  appointed  a  successor,  the  future  of  his  movement  —  whose  outreach 
activities  inspired  Jews  around  the  world  and  whose  political  clout  was  taken 
seriously  in  both  Israel  and  the  United  States — was  unclear.  Some  were  proclaiming 
the  Rebbe  as  the  messiah,  while  many  of  his  closest  lieutenants,  agreeing  in  principle 
that  their  master  might  be  the  promised  messiah,  opposed  such  public  statements, 
partly  because  they  tended  to  alienate  potential  donors. 

In  early  March  the  Rebbe  had  a  cataract  removed  and  the  next  week  was  hospital- 
ized after  suffering  another  stroke.  Lubavitch  messianists  interpreted  the  turn  of 
events  as  a  sign  of  approaching  redemption:  "This  is  the  intensification  of  darkness 
which  signals  the  coming  light,"  said  one.  Even  the  fact  that  this  second  stroke 
occurred  two  years  to  the  day  after  the  first  was  viewed  as  providential. 

The  Rebbe  died  on  the  morning  of  June  12,  1994,  and  an  estimated  35,000 
attended  the  funeral  that  afternoon,  including  the  mayor  of  New  York  City  and 
leading  Israeli  diplomats.  Even  as  his  casket  was  being  brought  to  the  cemetery, 
there  were  those  who  spoke  of  his  imminent  resurrection  and  messianic  emergence. 
In  the  weeks  and  months  that  followed,  these  "resurrectionists"  answered  charges 
that  they  had  appropriated  Christian  theology  by  claiming  that  the  idea  of  a  messiah 
who  returns  from  the  dead  was  an  original  Jewish  notion.  A  New  York  Times  article 
(November  8,  1994)  describing  how  the  movement  was  slowly  getting  used  to  the 
absence  of  the  Rebbe  elicited  a  letter  from  the  chairperson  of  the  International 
Campaign  to  Bring  Moschiach  (November  14),  asserting  that  "the  time  we  have  to 
endure  without  the  Rebbe's  physical  presence  will  be  very  short,  and  very  soon  the 
Rebbe  will  lead  us  to  the  great  and  final  redemption." 

The  Lubavitch  mainstream,  however,  was  critical  of  such  speculation,  and  the 
established  leadership  charged  those  raising  hopes  of  resurrection  with  disrespect 
to  God  and  to  the  late  Rebbe.  What  was  needed,  instead,  was  redoubled  dedication 
to  the  task  set  out  by  the  Rebbe:  spreading  the  word  of  God.  Indeed,  Lubavitch 
emissaries  all  over  the  world — very  few  of  whom  had  gotten  caught  up  in  the 
messianic  frenzy — insisted  that  they  would  carry  on  as  before,  because  that  is  what 
the  Rebbe  would  have  wanted.  Indeed,  contrary  to  the  predictions  of  some  that  the 
movement  would  undergo  a  crisis  without  a  charismatic  leader  at  the  helm,  there 
was  no  indication  that  the  organization  was  in  any  danger  of  collapse.  And  specula- 

166      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

tion  over  possible  successors  to  the  Rebbe  began  to  be  replaced  by  suggestions  that 
Lubavitcher  Hassidim — who  had  access,  after  all,  to  extensive  videotape  libraries 
of  Rabbi  Schneerson  in  action — might  not  need  another  rebbe. 

On  October  19,  both  houses  of  Congress  unanimously  voted  the  Lubavitcher 
Rebbe  the  Congressional  Gold  Medal.  And  on  June  19,  1995,  New  York  magazine 
once  again  succinctly  summed  up  the  situation:  "Beyond  Belief:  A  year  after  his 
death.  Rabbi  Menachem  Schneerson  is  still  treated  as  a  living  presence  by  the 
Lubavitcher  faithful.  Indeed,  his  grave  site  has  become  a  place  of  uncommon  holi- 
ness, where  thousands  of  pilgrims  seek  his  blessing  and  an  answer  to  the  question, 
Is  he  really  the  Messiah?" 

Jewish  Liberalism  Under  Siege 

Notwithstanding  the  intensity  of  their  religious  fervor,  the  number  of  American 
Jews  who  venerated  Rabbi  Schneerson  paled  in  comparison  to  the  number  who 
associated  their  Jewish  identity  with  liberal  politics.  Indeed,  by  early  1994  President 
Bill  Clinton  was  more  popular  in  the  Jewish  community  than  any  other  president 
in  recent  memory,  primarily  due  to  his  supportive  stance  toward  Israel  and  his 
domestic  agenda.  In  the  words  of  Jason  Isaacson,  the  American  Jewish  Committee's 
director  of  international  and  government  affairs;  "There  seems  to  be  a  genuine  focus 
by  this  president  on  the  civic  environment  of  the  nation,  with  much  greater  attention 
to  relations  between  groups  and  tolerance  for  diversity."  Mainstream  Jewish  groups 
backed  the  administration  in  opposing  a  balanced-budget  amendment  and  support- 
ing health-care  reform,  abortion  rights,  and  gay  rights.  The  increased  clout  of  the 
"rehgious  right"  within  the  Republican  Party — which  differed  fundamentally  with 
the  strict  interpretation  of  church-state  separation  espoused  by  most  Jews— pro- 
vided an  added  incentive  for  continued  Jewish  adherence  to  the  Democratic  admin- 

The  November  1994  elections,  then,  came  as  an  unpleasant  shock  to  most  Jews. 
With  both  houses  in  Congress  now  in  Republican  hands,  Jerome  Chanes,  codirector 
for  domestic  concerns  at  NJCRAC,  said:  "The  entire  domestic  agenda  is  clearly  in 
trouble."  Matthew  Brooks,  executive  director  of  the  National  Jewish  Coalition, 
which  had  been  founded  to  attract  Jews  to  the  Republican  banner,  warned:  "The 
Jewish  community  will  lose  influence  if  it  does  not  start  to  support  the  party.  There's 
a  choice — to  get  on  board  or  be  left  outside." 

Jewish  conservatives  were  buoyed  by  the  Republican  sweep.  Toward  Tradition, 
a  Jewish  organization  that  sought  common  ground  with  the  religious  right,  ran  an 
ad  on  the  op-ed  page  of  the  New  York  Times  (December  16,  1994)  under  the 
headline  "Mazel  Tov  Speaker  Gingrich — We  Know  All  About  10  Point  Con- 
tracts." Signed  by  over  50  Jews — politicians,  communal  figures,  intellectuals,  and 
Orthodox  rabbis — the  ad  claimed  that  classical  Jewish  teachings  favored  hmited 
government,  lower  taxes,  and  the  traditional  family. 

Jewish  Democrats  responded  with  a  Times  ad  of  their  own  in  the  same  spot  in 

JEWISH    COMMUNAL    AFFAIRS      /      167 

the  paper  two  weeks  later  (January  3,  1995),  asking  "Toward  What  Tradition?"  This 
ad,  endorsed  by  a  similar  number  of  liberal  rabbis  and  other  activists,  argued  that 
social  justice  was  the  hallmark  of  Jewish  values — "justice,  equity,  and  compassion" 
—and  pointed  out  that  78  percent  of  Jewish  voters  in  the  1994  elections  had 
apparently  agreed  by  bucking  the  national  trend  and  voting  Democratic. 

TheNJCRAC  plenum,  held  in  Washington  in  February  1995,  provided  proof  that 
the  great  bulk  of  the  organized  Jewish  community  sympathized  with  the  second  ad 
rather  than  the  first.  Despite  the  verdict  of  the  election,  the  delegates  from  around 
the  country  heartily  endorsed  the  administration's  domestic  program.  In  the  discus- 
sion on  a  balanced-budget  amendment,  one  frustrated  conservative  publicly  com- 
plained. "The  NJCRAC  process  does  not  allow  minority  views  to  be  heard  on 
economic  and  social  programs.  Our  organization  is  viewed  as  the  liberal  wing  of  the 
Democratic  Party,  and  as  such  we  are  less  and  less  relevant."  So  publicly  identified 
was  the  Jewish  community  with  the  liberal  cause  that  Hillary  Clinton  invited 
representatives  of  Jewish  organizations  to  the  White  House  in  March  to  organize 
opposition  to  congressional  budget  cuts. 

A  perceptive  front-page  article  in  the  Wall  Street  Journal  (March  8,  1995) 
analyzed  the  new  sense  of  unease  among  secular,  liberal  Jews,  many  of  whom  had 
the  feeling  of  being  outsiders  in  a  Republican-controlled  America,  one  in  which  any 
public  display  of  Christianity — as  advocated  by  the  religious  right — was  by  defini- 
tion anti-Semitic.  Sure  enough,  when,  in  May,  Republican  leaders  endorsed  the 
Christian  Coalition's  "Contract  with  the  American  Family,"  the  mainstream  Jewish 
organizations  recoiled  in  protest.  Rabbi  David  Saperstein,  director  of  the  Reform 
movement's  Religious  Action  Center,  for  example,  declared  that  this  contract  was 
"wrong-headed,  misguided,  and  divisive"  and  "runs  roughshod  over  the  diversity 
of  American  family  and  religious  life."  Only  the  Orthodox  organizations  withheld 
blanket  condemnation,  declaring  that  they  would  assess  each  issue  in  the  contract 
on  its  own  merits. 

In  June  1995,  Norman  Podhoretz  announced  his  retirement  as  editor-in-chief  of 
Commentary,  the  editorially  independent  magazine  of  opinion  sponsored  by  the 
American  Jewish  Committee.  Over  the  course  of  the  35  years  that  he  ran  the 
magazine,  Podhoretz  moved  away  from  his  original  liberal  leanings  and  turned 
Commentary  into  the  primary  organ  of  neoconservative  thought  in  America.  In 
accomplishing  this,  Podhoretz  made  a  profound  impact  on  the  course  of  American 
political  and  cultural  life. 

The  Pollard  Case 

Jonathan  Pollard,  convicted  in  1987  of  passing  U.S.  classified  information  on  to 
Israel,  was  still  serving  his  life  sentence,  despite  the  feeling  of  many  in  the  Jewish 
community  that  the  sentence  was  disproportionate  to  the  lighter  prison  terms  meted 
out  to  others  who  had  spied  for  friendly  countries.  In  February  1994,  as  President 
Clinton  considered  whether  to  grant  clemency,  NJCRAC — which  had,  until  then. 

168      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

consistently  avoided  involvement — for  the  first  time  took  a  position  on  the  case.  It 
sent  Clinton  a  letter  that  did  not  go  so  far  as  to  suggest  clemency,  but  did  note  that 
"substantial  elements"  in  the  Jewish  community  considered  the  sentence  excessive 
and  had  "great  concern  with  respect  to  the  fairness  and  the  prospect  of  the  sen- 
tence." If,  it  went  on,  the  president's  review  of  the  case  showed  that  the  sentence 
was  unfair,  he  should  consider  reducing  it  to  time  already  served.  The  letter's 
delicate  phraseology  reflected  tensions  between  the  considerable  misgivings  of  many 
Jewish  leaders  over  getting  involved  in  the  case  and  the  significant  grassroots  sup- 
port for  freeing  Pollard. 

In  March  the  president  turned  down  Pollard's  clemency  request  because  of  "the 
grave  nature"  of  his  crime  and  "the  considerable  damage  that  his  actions  caused  our 
nation."  This  disappointment  only  stimulated  a  new  round  of  rallies  by  Citizens  for 
Pollard,  a  national  network  of  activists  in  350  communities,  now  joined  by  several 
Hollywood  celebrities  such  as  Jon  Voight,  Jack  Lemmon,  and  Whoopi  Goldberg. 
But,  in  a  new  twist  to  the  Pollard  story,  the  convict,  who  had  divorced  his  wife, 
Anne,  in  1991,  announced  his  prison  marriage  to  Elaine  Zeitz,  the  head  of  the 
Canadian  pro-Pollard  organization.  Eschewing  the  careful  diplomacy  of  the  Pollard 
family  and  refusing  to  cooperate  with  his  lawyers'  strategy,  Zeitz  harshly  attacked 
President  Clinton  for  refusing  clemency,  comparing  him  to  the  biblical  Pharaoh. 

With  Pollard  eligible  for  parole  in  November  1995 — the  tenth  anniversary  of  his 
arrest — rumor  had  it  that  Israel  might  arrange  a  deal  whereby  it  would  free  an 
imprisoned  Russian  spy,  Russia  would  release  an  American,  and  the  United  States 
would  let  Pollard  go.  In  the  spring  of  1995,  both  NJCRAC  and  the  Conference  of 
Presidents  sent  letters  to  President  Clinton  and  the  U.S.  Parole  Board  requesting 
that  parole  be  granted.  Seymour  Reich,  president  of  the  American  Zionist  Move- 
ment and  a  leader  of  the  movement  to  free  Pollard,  said:  "The  trick  now  is  for  the 
president  to  understand  that  this  is  a  key  issue  for  the  Israeli  government  and  the 
American  Jewish  community.  And  it's  the  latter  that  has  been  lacking." 

Holocaust  Legacy 

The  two  major  American  events  of  1993  memorializing  the  Holocaust — Steven 
Spielberg's  film  Schindler's  List  and  the  successful  opening  of  the  U.S.  Holocaust 
Memorial  Museum  in  Washington — continued  to  reverberate  in  1994. 

On  January  24,  Schindler's  List — about  a  German  industrialist  who  saved  over 
one  thousand  Jews  during  the  Holocaust — won  the  Golden  Globe  Awards  for  best 
dramatic  film,  director,  and  screenplay.  Two  months  later,  the  movie  garnered  seven 
Academy  Awards,  including  best  picture  and  best  director — the  first  best-director 
award  for  Spielberg  after  three  previous  nominations.  In  accepting  one  of  the 
awards,  Spielberg  said:  "I  implore  all  educators,  do  not  let  the  Holocaust  remain 
a  footnote  in  history.  Listen  to  the  words,  the  echoes,  the  ghosts." 

Yet  the  theme  of  Spielberg's  film,  that  of  the  Righteous  Gentile,  remained  contro- 

JEWISH    COMMUNAL    AFFAIRS      /      169 

versial.  On  the  one  hand,  it  was  surely  important  to  teach  the  message  that  individ- 
ual goodness  can  make  a  difference,  that,  in  the  words  of  American  Jewish  Commit- 
tee executive  director  David  Harris,  "We're  not  all  powerless  in  a  world  where  we 
may  feel  powerless."  On  the  other  hand,  there  were  potential  dangers.  While  no  one 
denied  that  Schindler  and  other  non-Jews  had  saved  Jews,  there  was  some  concern 
that  people  seeing  the  movie  and  knowing  nothing  else  about  the  Holocaust  might 
focus  more  on  the  heroism  of  Schindler  and  the  good  fortune  of  the  Jews  he  rescued 
than  on  the  multitudes  of  Jews  who  went  to  their  deaths  as  Gentile  neighbors  stood 
by,  or  even  participated  in  the  killing. 

The  U.S.  Holocaust  Memorial  Museum  continued  to  attract  huge  crowds.  It  also 
expanded  its  activities.  In  1994  it  launched  a  Center  for  the  Study  of  Holocaust 
Resistance,  which  would  collect  evidence  about  Jews  who  fought  back  against  their 
enemies.  In  1995,  the  museum  council  voted  to  take  on  the  responsibility  of  acting 
as  a  "committee  on  conscience"  that  would  "influence  policy-makers  and  stimulate 
worldwide  action  to  bring  acts  of  genocide  to  a  halt."  Asked  if  this  did  not  entail 
making  political  judgments,  council  chairman  Miles  Lerman  replied:  "We  do  not 
plan  to  become  a  perennial  fire  hose  that  runs  to  every  fire.  We  do  not  plan  to  become 
a  shadow  State  Department.  We  are  above  politics.  We  deal  with  morality  only." 

Cornell  University  professor  Steven  Katz,  chosen  to  be  the  director  of  the  Holo- 
caust Memorial  Museum  in  January  1995,  withdrew  in  March  after  disciplinary 
measures  taken  against  him  at  Cornell  became  public.  In  May,  Walter  Reich,  a 
prominent  psychiatrist  and  author,  was  chosen  as  his  successor.  Himself  a  Holo- 
caust survivor,  Reich  was  considered  an  expert  on  the  subject. 

The  central  role  that  Holocaust  remembrance  had  come  to  play  in  American 
Jewish  life  was  underlined  by  a  nasty  dispute  over  the  scheduling  of  the  1995  Salute 
to  Israel  Day  Parade  in  New  York  City.  The  date  originally  chosen  coincided  with 
Holocaust  Memorial  Day,  and  when  that  was  pointed  out  to  the  planners,  they 
suggested  holding  Holocaust  commemorations  in  the  morning  so  that  everyone 
could  be  at  the  parade  in  the  afternoon.  Many  survivors  reacted  furiously  when  this 
became  known  in  September  1994.  Reflecting  their  feelings,  Benjamin  Meed,  presi- 
dent of  the  American  Gathering/Federation  of  Jewish  Holocaust  Survivors,  pub- 
licly charged  that  the  Holocaust  commemoration  was  "under  attack — not  by  fas- 
cists, nor  by  deniers,  but  by  Jewish  organizers  of  the  Salute  to  Israel  Parade."  The 
organizers'  offer  to  share  the  day  he  described  as  a  demand  to  "make  an  early 
minyan  and  quickly  recite  Kaddish  for  our  six  million  so  that  we  can  rejoice  and 
dance  in  the  afternoon.  How  rude  and  disrespectful."  He  threatened  that  if  the 
parade  were  held  on  that  day,  the  marchers  would  have  to  step  over  the  bodies  of 
Holocaust  survivors.  They  got  their  way:  the  parade  date  was  shifted. 

Another  incident,  this  in  January  1995,  proved  that  sensitivity  to  the  Holocaust 
had  penetrated  far  beyond  the  Jewish  community  into  the  precincts  of  government. 
As  soon  as  House  Speaker  Newt  Gingrich — whose  Republican  Party  had  won  less 

170      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

than  a  quarter  of  the  Jewish  vote — had  to  confront  charges  from  Jewish  groups  that 
his  choice  for  House  historian  had,  years  earlier,  opposed  federal  funding  for  a 
proposed  Holocaust  curriculum  on  the  ground  that  it  did  not  present  the  Nazi  point 
of  view,  he  fired  her. 

Lawrence  Grossman 

Jewish  Population  in  the  United  States,  1995 

JDased  on  local  community  counts — the  method  for  identifying 
and  enumerating  Jewish  population  that  serves  as  the  basis  of  this  report — the 
estimated  size  of  the  American  Jewish  community  in  1995  was  5.9  million.  This  is 
about  6  percent  more  than  the  5.5  million  "core"  Jewish  population  estimated  in 
the  Council  of  Jewish  Federations'  1990  National  Jewish  Population  Survey 

The  difference,  small  though  it  is,  between  the  national  and  aggregated  local 
figures  is  partly  explained  by  the  lag  in  data  gathering  and  reporting  on  the  local 
level.  As  more  local  communities  conduct  studies  over  the  next  few  years,  declines 
and  increases  that  have  already  occurred  will  be  documented,  and  the  updated 
statistics  may  show  national  and  regional  patterns  more  in  line  with  NJPS  findings. 
However,  since  there  are  definitional  issues  as  well  as  a  lack  of  uniformity  in  local 
research,  which  often  relies  on  outdated  lists  for  population  projections,  the  aggre- 
gate counts  may  never  exactly  match  the  NJPS  national  totals. 

The  demographic  results  of  the  NJPS  suggested  that  the  population  was  growing 
slightly  due  to  an  excess  of  Jewish  births  over  Jewish  deaths  during  the  late  1980s. 
However,  extrapolation  from  the  age  structure  suggests  that  for  the  mid-1990s,  zero 
population  growth  in  numbers  is  being  realized,  with  a  balance  between  the  annual 
numbers  of  births  and  deaths.  At  the  same  time,  some  growth  in  numbers  is  achieved 
through  Jewish  immigration  into  the  United  States.  The  most  obvious  example  is 
that  of  refugees  from  the  former  Soviet  Union,  for  whom  the  annual  quota  is 
currently  set  at  40,000  Jews  each  year. 

The  NJPS  used  a  scientifically  selected  sample  to  project  a  total  number  for  the 
United  States,  but  could  not  provide  accurate  information  on  the  state  and  local 
levels.  Therefore,  as  in  past  years,  in  this  article  we  have  based  local,  state,  and 
regional  population  figures  on  the  usual  estimating  procedures. 

While  the  Jewish  federations  are  the  chief  reporting  bodies,  their  service  areas 
vary  in  size  and  may  represent  several  towns,  one  county,  or  an  aggregate  of  several 
counties.  In  some  cases  we  have  subdivided  federation  areas  to  reflect  the  more 
natural  geographic  boundaries.  Some  estimates,  from  areas  without  federations, 
have  been  provided  by  local  rabbis  and  other  informed  Jewish  community  leaders. 
In  still  other  cases,  the  figures  that  have  been  updated  are  from  past  estimates 
provided  by  United  Jewish  Appeal  field  representatives.  Finally,  for  smaller  commu- 
nities where  no  recent  estimates  are  available,  figures  are  based  on  extrapolation 
from  older  data.  The  estimates  are  for  the  resident  Jewish  population,  including 

'See  Barry  A.  Kosmin  et  a!..  Highlights  of  the  CJF 1990  National  Jewish  Population  Survey 
{Q)uncil  of  Jewish  Federations,  New  York,  1991). 


172      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

those  in  private  households  and  in  institutional  settings.  Non-Jewish  family  mem- 
bers have  been  excluded  from  the  total. 

The  state  and  regional  totals  shown  in  Appendix  tables  1  and  2  are  derived  by 
summing  the  individual  estimates  shown  in  table  3  and  then  making  three  adjust- 
ments. First,  communities  of  less  than  100  are  added.  Second,  duplicated  counts 
within  states  are  eliminated.  Third,  communities  whose  population  resides  in  two 
or  more  states  (e.g.,  Kansas  City  and  Greater  Washington,  D.C.)  are  distributed 

Because  population  estimating  is  not  an  exact  science,  the  reader  should  be  aware 
that  in  cases  where  a  figure  diflFers  from  last  year's,  the  increase  or  decrease  did  not 
come  about  suddenly  but  occurred  over  a  period  of  time  and  has  just  now  been 
substantiated.  Similarly,  the  results  of  a  completed  local  demographic  study  often 
change  the  previously  reported  Jewish  population  figure.  This  should  be  understood 
as  either  an  updated  calculation  of  gradual  demographic  change  or  a  correction  of 
a  faulty  older  estimate. 

In  determining  Jewish  population,  communities  count  both  affiliated  and  nonaf- 
fihated  residents  who  are  "core"  Jews  as  defined  in  NJPS.^  In  most  cases,  counts 
are  made  by  households,  with  that  number  multiplied  by  the  average  number  of 
self-defined  Jewish  persons  per  household.  Similarly  to  NJPS,  most  communities 
also  include  those  born  and  raised  as  Jews  but  who  at  present  consider  themselves 
as  having  no  religion.  As  stated  above,  non-Jews  living  in  Jewish  households, 
primarily  the  non-Jewish  spouses  and  non-Jewish  children,  are  not  included  in  the 
1995  estimates  presented  in  the  appendix  below. 

Local  Population  Changes 

The  largest  change  was  in  Buff'alo,  New  York,  where  a  recent  demographic  study 
revealed  a  Jewish  population  of  26,000,  which  is  more  than  9,000  higher  than  the 
previous  estimate.  While  the  Jewish  population  in  Buff'alo  in  the  mid-1960s  was 
beUeved  to  be  about  25,000,  there  had  been  an  assumption  of  gradual  decline.  The 
new  study,  however,  indicates  stability  and  some  minimal  growth  over  the  last  30 

Four  other  communities  reported  population  increases  of  greater  than  1,000,  and 
all  were  in  the  South:  Orlando,  Florida;  Atlanta,  Georgia;  Austin,  Texas;  and 
Richmond,  Virginia.  While  each  of  these  communities  is  believed  to  be  growing, 
only  Richmond  substantiated  its  increase  through  a  recent  demographic  study. 

Two  Midwestern  communities,  St.  Louis,  Missouri,  and  Toledo,  Ohio,  posted 
modest  gains,  which  were  documented  in  recently  completed  studies.  Other  commu- 
nities that  had  Jewish  population  increases  were  mainly  in  the  South  or  the  West: 
Bakersfield,  California;  Lakeland,  Orlando,  Sarasota,  and  Winter  Haven,  Florida; 

'Born  Jews  who  report  adherence  to  Judaism,  Jews  by  choice,  and  bom  Jews  without  a 
current  religion  ("secular  Jews"). 

JEWISH    POPULATION     IN    THE    UNITED    STATES      /      173 

Alexandria  and  Baton  Rouge,  Louisiana;  Salt  Lake  City,  Utah;  Newport  News- 
Hampton  and  Winchester,  Virginia.  Other  communities  outside  these  regions  that 
reported  gains  included  Flemington,  New  Jersey;  Warren,  Ohio;  and  Altoona, 
Pennsylvania.  Three  locales  with  recently  developed  Jewish  communities  are  listed 
for  the  first  time:  Bend,  Oregon;  and  Stowe  and  Woodstock,  Vermont. 

Two  communities  in  Pennsylvania  indicated  the  largest  decreases:  Reading  and 
Lancaster;  however,  these  losses  were  less  than  1,000.  Even  smaller  decreases  were 
reported  by  a  number  of  communities  in  different  areas  of  the  country:  Little  Rock, 
Arkansas;  Stockton,  California;  Waterbury,  Connecticut;  Lawrence,  Kansas; 
Monroe,  Louisiana;  Augusta,  Maine;  Annapolis,  Maryland;  New  Bedford,  Massa- 
chusetts; Saginaw,  Michigan;  Vineland,  New  Jersey;  Niagara  Falls,  New  York;  and 
Raleigh,  North  Carolina. 

Barry  A.  Kosmin 
Jeffrey  Scheckner 

174      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 










of  Total 

Alabama 9,000 

Alaska 3,000 

Arizona 72,000 

Arkansas 1,700 

California 922,000 

Colorado 51,500 

Connecticut 97,000 

Delaware 9,500 

District  of  Columbia 25,500 

Florida 641,000 

Georgia 77,000 

Hawaii 7,000 

Idaho 500 

Illinois 268,000 

Indiana 18,000 

Iowa 6,000 

Kansas 14,000 

Kentucky 11,000 

Louisiana 16,500 

Maine 7,500 

Maryland 211,000 

Massachusetts 268,000 

Michigan 107,000 

Minnesota 42,000 

Mississippi 1,400 

Missouri 62,000 

Montana 800 

Nebraska 7,000 

Nevada 21,000 

New  Hampshire 9,500 

New  Jersey 436,000 

New  Mexico 9,000 

New  York 1,645,000 


























JEWISH    POPULATION    IN    THE    UNITED    STATES     /      175 


State Population 

North  Carolina 21,500 

North  Dakota 600 

Ohio 129.000 

Oklahoma 5,500 

Oregon 19,500 

Pennsylvania 330,000 

Rhode  Island 16,000 

South  Carolina 9,000 

South  Dakota 400 

Tennessee 1 8,000 

Texas 110,500 

Utah 3,600 

Vermont 5,700 

Virginia 73,000 

Washington 34,000 

West  Virginia 2,200 

Wisconsin 35,000 

Wyoming 500. 

U.S.  TOTAL **5,900,000 






of  Total 







































N.B.  Details  may  not  add  to  totals  because  of  rounding. 
♦  Resident  population,  July  1,  1994.  (Source:  U.S.  Bureau  of  the  Census,  Cur- 
rent Population  Reports,  series  P-25,  no.  1 106.) 

**  Exclusive  of  Puerto  Rico  and  the  Virgin  Islands,  which  previously  reported 
Jewish  populations  of  1,500  and  350,  respectively, 
(z)  Figure  is  less  than  0.1  and  rounds  to  0. 

176      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,  1996 


Total               Percent  Jewish  Percent 

Region                   Population       Distribution  Population     Distribution 

Northeast                            51,396,000              19/7  2,824,000  47T~ 

New  England 13,270,000               5.1  404,000  6.8 

Middle  Atlantic 38,125,000              14.6  2,420,000  41.0 

Midwest                              61,394,000             23.6  689,000  11.7 

East  North  Central  .  .    43,184,000              16.6  556,000  9.4 

West  North  Central . .     18,210,000               7.0  132,000  2.2 

South                                  90,692,000             34.8  1,244,000  21.1 

South  Atlantic 46,398,000              17.8  1,070,000  18.1 

East  South  Central.  . .     15,890,000               6.1  39,000  0.7 

West  South  Central  .  .    28,404,000              10.9  134,000  2.3 

West                                   56,859,000             21.8  1,145,000  19.4 

Mountain 15,214,000               5.8  159,000  2.7 

Pacific 41,645,000              16.0  986,000  16.7 

TOTALS 260,341,000            100.0  5,900,000  100.0 

N.B.  Details  may  not  add  to  totals  because  of  rounding. 

JEWISH    POPULATION     IN     THE    UNITED    STATES      /      177 

table  3.    communities  with  jewish  populations  of  100  or  more,  1995 


State  and  City     Population 

State  and  City 


State  and  City 



*Binningham  ....  5,200 
Decatur  (incl.   in  Flor- 
ence total) 

Dothan 150 

Florence 150 

Huntsville 750 

••Mobile 1,100 

♦•Montgomery  ...   1,300 
Sheffield  (incl.  in 
Florence  total) 

Tuscaloosa 300 

Tuscumbia  (incl.  in 
Florence  total) 


•Anchorage 1,600 

♦Fairbanks 540 

Juneau 285 

Kenai  Peninsula  . .  .  200 
Ketchikan  (incl.  in 
Juneau  total) 


Cochise  County 260 

♦Flagstaff 350 

Lake  Havasu  City 


•Phoenix 50,000 

Prescott 250 

Sierra  Vista  (incl.  in 

Cochise  County) 
♦Tucson 20,000 

Yuma 125 


Fayetteville 150 

Hot  Springs 1 30 

••Little  Rock  ....   1,250 


•••Antelope  Valley  .  700 
Aptos  (incl.  in 

Santa  Cruz  total) 

County 2,200 

Berkeley  (incl.  in 
Contra  Costa  County, 
under  S.F.  Bay 
Carmel  (incl.  in  Mon- 
terey Peninsula) 

•Chico 500 

Corona  (incl.  in 
Riverside  total) 

•Eureka 500 

Fairfield 800 

Fontana  (incl.  in 
San  Bernardino 

•Fresno 2,500 

Lancaster  (incl.  in 
Antelope  Valley) 
Long  Beach  (also 
incl.  in  Los  Angeles 

total)"^ 13,500 

Los  Angeles  Metro 

Area 490,000 

•Merced  County 190 

•Modesto 500 

Monterey  Peninsula 


Moreno  Valley  (incl.  in 

Riverside  total) 
Murietta  Hot  Springs 


•Napa  County 950 

Oakland  (incl.  in 

Alameda  County, 

under  S.F.  Bay  Area) 
Ontario  (incl.  in 

Pomona  Valley) 
Orange  County  .  75,000 
Palmdale  (incl.  in 

Antelope  Valley) 
Palm  Springs'^  . .  9,850 
Palo  Alto  (incl.  in 

South  Peninsula, 

under  S.F.  Bay  Area) 
Pasadena  (incl.  in 

L.A.  Metro  Area 

Petaluma  (incl.  in 

Sonoma  County, 

under  S.F.  Bay  Area) 
Pomona  Valley"^ .  6,750 

•Redding  area 150 

Redwood  Valley  ...  200 

Riverside 2,000 

Sacramento"^. .  .  21,300 

Salinas 750 

San  Bernardino  area 


•San  Diego 70,000 

San  Francisco  Bay 

Area"^ 210,000 

See  Notes  below.  'Includes  entire  county.  ••Includes  all  of  2  counties.  •••Figure  not 

178      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 




State  and  City       Population 

State  and  City       Population 

State  and  City      Population 

Alameda  County 

Colorado  Springs 

New  London*^. . .  4,000 



New  Milford  area. .  600 

Contra  Costa  County 

Denverf^ 46,000 

Newtown  (incl.  in 


Eagle  (incl.  in  Vail  total) 

Danbury  total) 

Marin  County.   18,500 

Evergreen  (also  incl.  in 

Norwalk*^ 9,500 

N.  Peninsula  .  .  24,500 

Denver  total) 

Norwich  (also  incl.  in 

San  Francisco.  49,500 


New  London  total) 

San  Jose 33,000 

*Fort  Collins 1,000 


Sonoma  County   9,000 

♦Grand  Junction.  .  .  .  250 

Rockville  (incl.  in 

S.  Peninsula  .  .  21,000 

Greeley  (incl.  in 

Hartford  total) 

*San  Jose  (listed  under 

Ft.  Collins  total) 

Shelton  (incl.  in 

S.F.  Bay  Area) 

Loveland  (incl.  in 

Valley  area) 

*San  Luis  Obispo.   1,450 

Ft.  Collins  total) 

Southington  (incl.  in 

*Santa  Barbara         4  500 

Pueblo 250 

Meriden  total) 

*Santa  Cruz              4,000 

Steamboat  Springs  .  160 

Stamford/New  Canaan 

^^^411^^4       ^k^  >    \*M^         .      .      »      .      .             VfV^VrU 

Telluride 125 


Santa  Monica  (also 

**Vail 500 

Storrs  (incl.  in 
Willimantic  total) 

incl.  in  Los  Angeles 


Torrington  area 580 

total) 8,000 

Bridgeport'^....   10,250 

Valley  area^ 550 

Santa  Rosa  (incl.  in 

Bristol  (incl.  in 

Wallingford  (also  incl. 

Sonoma  County, 

Hartford  total) 

in  Meriden  total) .  500 

under  S.F.  Bay  Area) 

Cheshire  (incl.  in 

WaterburyN 2,700 

Sonoma  County  (listed 

Meriden  total) 

Westport  (incl.  in 

under  S.F.  Bay  Area) 

Colchester 300 

Norwalk  total) 

South  Lake  Tahoe  .  150 

Danbury*^ 3,500 

Willimantic  area ...  700 

♦Stockton 1,000 

***Danielson 100 

***Sun  City 200 

Darien  (incl.  in 


Tulare  &  Kings 

Stamford  total) 

Dover'^  650 

counties 300 

Greenwich 3,900 

Wilmington  (incl. 

Ukiah  (incl.  in  Redwood 

Hartford*^ 26,000 

rest  of  state) . . .  9,500 

Valley  total) 

Hebron  (incl.  in 

Vallejo  area 900 

Colchester  total) 


♦Ventura  County  .  9,000 

Lebanon  (incl.  in 

Greater  Washington 

Visalia  (incl.  in 

Colchester  total) 
Lower  Middlesex 


Tulare  and  Kings 

counties  total) 

County'^ 1,650 


Manchester  (incl.  in 

Arcadia  (incl.  in 


Hartford  total) 

Port  Charlotte-Punta 

Aspen 450 

Meriden f^ 3,000 

Gorda  total) 

Breckenridge  (incl.  in 

Middletown 1,300 

Boca  Raton-Delray 

Vail  total) 

New  Britain  (incl.  in 

Beach  (listed  under 

Boulder  (incl.  in 

Hartford  total) 

Southeast  Fla.) 

Denver  total) 

New  Haven f^...  24,000 

Brevard  County  .  4,500 

JEWISH     POPULATION     IN    THE    UNITED    STATES      /      179 

State  and  City     Population 

♦••Crystal  River 100 

••Daytona  Beach .  2,500 
Ft.  Lauderdale  (listed 
under  Southeast  Fla.) 

••Ft.  Myers 5,000 

Ft.  Pierce 1,060 

Gainesville 1,600 

Hollywood-S.  Broward 
County  (listed  under 
Southeast  Fla.) 
••Jacksonville ....  7,300 

Key  West 500 

Lakeland 1,000 

•Miami-Dade  County 
(listed  under 
Southeast  Fla.) 
Naples-Collier  County 


New  Port  Richey 
(incl.  in  Pasco 
County  total) 
Ocala-Marion  County 


Orlando'^ 21,000 

Palm  Beach  County 
(listed  under 
Southeast  Fla.) 
Pasco  County  . . .   1,000 

••Pensacola 650 

Pinellas  County.  24,200 
••Port  Charlotte-Punta 

Gorda 900 

*St.  Petersburg- 
Clearwater  (incl. 
in  Pinellas  County) 

••Sarasota 13,800 

Southeast  Florida 


Boca  Raton-Delray 

Beach 83,300 

Ft.  Lauderdale*^ 


Hollywood-S.  Broward 
County^  . . .  63,000 

State  and  City 


State  and  City 


Miami-Dade  County 


Palm  Beach  County 
(excl.  Boca  Raton- 
Delray  Beach) 


***Stuart-Port  St.  Lucie 
(portion  also  incl. 
in  Ft.  Pierce  total) 


Tallahassee 1,640 

•Tampa 15,000 

Venice  (incl.  in 
Sarasota  total) 

•Vero  Beach 300 

Winter  Haven 300 


Albany 190 

Athens 400 

Atlanta  Metro  Area 


Augusta*^ 1,400 

Brunswick 100 

••Columbus 1,000 

••Dalton 180 

Macon 900 

•Savannah 2,800 

••Valdosta 100 


Hilo 280 

Honolulu  (includes 
all  of  Oahu)  .  .  .   6,400 

Kauai 100 

Maui 210 


••Boise 220 

Lewiston  (incl.  in 

Moscow  total) 
Moscow 100 


Aurora  area 500 



Carbondale  (incl.  in 

S.  111.  total) 


Chicago  Metro  Area*^ 


•♦Danville 100 

•Decatur 140 

DeKalb 180 

East  St.  Louis  (incl. 
in  S.  111.) 

Elgin*^ 600 

Freeport  (incl.  in 
Rockford  total) 

•Joliet 500 

Kankakee 100 

•Peoria 800 

Quad  Cities'^ ... .   1,250 

••Quincy 105 

Rock  Island  (incl.  in 
Quad  Cities) 

Rockford*^ 1,000 

Southern  Illinois'^. .  700 

•Springfield 1,060 

Waukegan 400 


Bloomington 1,000 

Elkhart  (incl.  in 
South  Bend  total) 

Evansville 400 

**Ft.  Wayne 950 

*  *Gary-North  west 

Indiana 2,220 

** Indianapolis.  .  .    10,000 

••Lafayette 700 

•Michigan  City 300 

Muncie 160 

South  Bend*^ ....  2,000 
•Terre  Haute 250 

180     /      AMERICAN    JEWISH     YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

Jewish  Jewish 

State  and  City       Population       State  and  City       Population 

State  and  City 



Ames  (also  incl.  in 
Des  Moines  total).  200 

Cedar  Rapids 420 

Council  Bluffs  (also 
incl.  in  Omaha, 

Neb.  total) 150 

Davenport  (incl.  in 
Quad  Cities,  111.) 

*Des  Moines 2,800 

♦Iowa  City 1,200 

**Sioux  City 520 

♦Waterloo 170 


Kansas  City  (incl.  in 
Kansas  City,  Mo.) 

Lawrence 100 

Manhattan 150 

♦Topeka 500 

Wichita^ 1,300 


(incl.  in  Cincinnati, 
Ohio  total) 

Lexington^ 1,850 

♦Louisville 8,700 

Paducah  (incl.  in  S.  111.) 


Alexandria^ 350 

Baton  Rouge^...   1,500 
Lafayette  (incl.  in 

S.  Central  La.) 
Lake  Charles  area.  .  200 

Monroe 260 

♦♦New  Orleans..    13,000 

♦Shreveport 870 

♦♦♦South  Central  La.^ 


Augusta 140 

Bangor 1,000 

Biddeford-Saco  (incl. 

in  S.  Maine) 
Brunswick-Bath  (incl. 

in  S.  Maine) 
Lewiston-Auburn  .  .  500 

Portland 3,900 

Rockland  area 180 

Southern  Maine  (incl. 

Portland)^  ....  5,500 
♦Waterville 200 


Annapolis  area  .  .   1,800 

♦♦Baltimore 94,500 

Cumberland 265 

♦Frederick 900 

♦Hagerstown 325 

♦Harford  County  .   1,200 
♦♦♦Howard  County 


Montgomery  and  Prince 
Georges  counties 


Ocean  City 100 

Salisbury 400 

Silver  Spring  (incl.  in 

Montgomery  County) 
Upper  Eastern  Shore^ 


Amherst  area  . .  .   1,300 

Andover^ 3,000 

Athol  area  (also  incl. 

in  Worcester  County 

total) 300 

Attleboro  area 200 

Beverly  (incl.  in 

Lynn  total) 
Boston  Metro  Region*^ 


Brockton^ 8,000 

Brookline  (also  incl.  in 

Boston  total)..   26,000 

Cape  Cod-Bamstable 

County 3,000 

Clinton  (incl.  in 

Worcester  County) 
Fall  River  area  . .  1,100 
Falmouth  (incl.  in 

Cape  Cod) 
Fitchburg  (also  incl. 

in  Worcester  County 

total) 300 

Framingham  (incl.  in 

Boston  total) 
Gardner  (incl.  in 

Athol  total) 
Gloucester  (also  incl. 

in  Lynn  total) 450 

Great  Barrington  (incl. 

in  Pittsfield  total) 

♦Greenfield 1,100 

Haverhill 800 

Holyoke 600 

♦Hyannis  (incl.  in 

Cape  Cod) 
Lawrence  (incl.  in 

Andover  total) 
Leominster  (also 

incl.  in  Worcester 

County  total)  ....  300 

Lowell  area 2,000 

Lynn-North  Shore 

area^ 20,000 

♦Martha's  Vineyard .  260 
New  Bedford'^  . .  2,600 

Newburyport 280 

Newton  (also  incl.  in 

Boston  total). .  34,000 
North  Adams  (incl.  in 

N.  Berkshire  County) 
North  Berkshire  County 


Northampton 850 

Peabody  (incl.  in 

Lynn  total) 

JEWISH    POPULATION     IN    THE    UNITED    STATES      /      181 

State  and  City     Population 

County 3,300 

Plymouth  area 500 

Provincetown  (incl.  in 
Cape  Cod) 

Salem  (incl.  in 
Lynn  total) 

Southbridge  (also 
incl.  in  Worcester 
County  total) 105 

Springfield"^....   10,000 

Taunton  area. . . .   1,300 

Webster  (also 
incl.  in  Worcester 
County  total) 125 

Worcester  area"^   10,100 

♦Worcester  County 


♦Ann  Arbor 5,000 

Bay  City 150 

Benton  Harbor  area 


♦♦Detroit  Metro  Area 


♦Flint 1,710 

♦Grand  Rapids  .. .   1,600 

♦♦Jackson 200 

♦Kalamazoo 1,100 

Lansing  area  ....  2,100 

Midland 120 

Ml.  Clemens  (incl.  in 
Detroit  total) 

Mt.  Pleasant"^ 100 

♦Muskegon 220 

♦Saginaw 140 


♦♦Duluth 485 

♦Minneapolis 31,500 

Rochester 550 

'♦St.  Paul 9,200 

State  and  City 


Winona  (incl.  in 
La  Crosse,  Wis.  total) 


Biloxi-Gulfport 140 

♦♦Greenville 160 

**Hattiesburg 130 

♦♦Jackson  550 


Columbia 400 

Hannibal  (incl.  in 

Quincy,  111.  total) 
Kansas  City  Metro 

Area 19,100 

♦St.  Joseph 265 

♦♦St.  Louis 54,000 

Springfield 300 


♦Billings 240 

Butte 100 

Helena  (incl.  in  Butte 

♦Kalispell 150 

Missoula 200 


Grand  Island-Hastings 
(incl.  in  Lincoln  total) 

Lincoln 800 

Omaha"^ 6,500 


Carson  City  (incl.  in 
Reno  total) 

♦Las  Vegas 20,000 

♦♦Reno 1,400 

Sparks  (incl.  in 
Reno  total) 


Bethlehem 100 

Claremont  area ....  140 

State  and  City      Population 

Concord 450 

Dover  area 600 

Exeter  (incl.  in 

Portsmouth  total) 
Franconia  (incl.  in 

Bethlehem  total) 
Hanover-Lebanon . .  500 

♦Keene 300 

♦♦Laconia 270 

Littleton  (incl.  in 

Bethlehem  total) 
Manchester  area  .  4,000 
Nashua  area  ....  1,890 
Portsmouth  area  . . .  950 
Rochester  (incl.  in 

Dover  total) 
Salem  (also  incl. 

in  Andover,  Mass. 

total) 150 


Asbury  Park  (incl.  in 

Monmouth  County) 
♦♦Atlantic  City  (incl. 

Atlantic  and  Cape  May 

counties) 15,800 

Bayonne  (listed  under 

Hudson  County) 
Bergen  County  (also 

incl.  in  Northeastern 

N.J.  total) ....  83,700 

Bridgeton 200 

Bridgewater  (incl.  in 

Somerset  County) 
Camden  (incl.  in 

Cherry  Hill  total) 
Cherry  Hill-Southern 

N.J."^ 49,000 

Edison  (incl.  in 

Middlesex  County) 
Elizabeth  (incl.  in 

Union  County) 
Englewood  (incl.  in 

Bergen  County) 

182      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

State  and  City 


State  and  City 


Essex  County'^  (also 
incl.  in  Northeastern 

N.J.  total) 76,200 

East  Essex 10,800 

Livingston. . .  .  12,600 
North  Essex  . .  15,600 
South  Essex.  . .  20,300 
West  Orange-Orange 


♦Flemington 1,250 

Freehold  (incl.  in  Mon- 
mouth County) 

Gloucester  (incl.  in 
Cherry  Hill-Southern 
N.J.  total) 

Hoboken  (listed  under 
Hudson  County) 

Hudson  County  (also 
incl.  in  Northeastern 
N.J.  total) ....   12,340 

Bayonne 1,740 

Hoboken 1,100 

Jersey  City 6,000 

North  Hudson 
CountyN  ....  3,500 

Jersey  City  (listed  under 
Hudson  County) 

Lakewood  (incl.  in 
Ocean  County) 

Livingston  (incl.  in 
Essex  County) 

Middlesex  County'^ 
(also  incl.  in 
Northeastern  N.J. 
total) 51,000 

Monmouth  County 
(also  incl.  in 
Northeastern  N.J. 
total) 33,600 

Morris  County  (also 
incl.  in  Northeastern 
N.J.  total) ....  33,500 

Morristown  (incl.  in 
Morris  County) 

Mt.  Holly  (incl.  in 

Cherry  Hill-Southern 

N.J.  total) 
Newark  (incl.  in 

Essex  County) 
New  Brunswick  (incl. 

in  Middlesex  County) 
Northeastern  N.J.'^ 


Ocean  County  (also 

incl.  in  Northeastern 

N.J.  total) 9,500 

Passaic  County  (also 

incl.  in  Northeastern 

N.J.  total)....   15,000 
Passaic-Clifton  (also 

incl.  in  Passaic 

County  total)  . .  8,000 
Paterson  (incl.  in 

Passaic  County) 
Perth  Amboy  (incl.  in 

Middlesex  County) 
Phillipsburg  (incl.  in 

Easton,  Pa.  total) 
Plainfield  (incl.  in 

Union  County) 
Princeton  area. . .  3,000 
Somerset  County  (also 

incl.  in  Northeastern 

N.J.  total)....   11,000 
Somerville  (incl.  in 

Somerset  County) 
Sussex  County  (also 

incl.  in  Northeastern 

N.J.  total) 4,100 

Toms  River  (incl.  in 

Ocean  County) 

Trenton*^ 6,000 

Union  County  (also 

incl.  in  Northeastern 

N.J.  total) ....  30,000 

Vineland'^ 2,000 

Warren  County 400 

State  and  City      Population 

Wayne  (incl.  in 
Passaic  County) 

Wildwood 425 

Willingboro  (incl.  in 
Cherry  Hill-Southern 
N.J.  total) 


♦Albuquerque 6,000 

Las  Cruces 525 

Los  Alamos 250 

Rio  Rancho  (incl.  in 
Albuquerque  total) 

Santa  Fe 1,500 

Taos 300 


♦Albany 12,000 

Amenia  (incl.  in 


Dutchess  County) 

Amsterdam 150 

*  Auburn 115 

Beacon  (incl.  in 


Dutchess  County) 
*Binghamton  (inc).  al) 

Broome  County) 


Brewster  (incl.  in 

Putnam  County) 

♦Buffalo 26,000 

Canandaigua  (incl. 

in  Geneva  total) 

Catskill 200 

Corning  (incl.  in 

Elmira  total) 

♦Cortland 150 

Dunkirk '00 

Ellenville l.^* 

ElmiraN 950 

Fleischmanns '20 

Fredonia  (incl.  in 

Dunkirk  total) 

JEWISH    POPULATION    IN    THE    UNITED    STATES     /      183 




State  and  City     Population 

State  and  City      Population 

State  and  City     Population 

Geneva  area 310 

Niagara  Falls 150 

Goldsboro 120 

Glens  Falls'^ 800 

Glean 120 

♦Greensboro 2,500 

♦Gloversville 380 

**Oneonta 300 

Greenville 240 

♦Herkimer 180 

Orange  County 

♦Hendersonville 200 

Highland  Falls  (incl. 
in  Orange  County) 


♦♦Hickory 1 10 

High  Point  (incl.  in 

Pawling 105 

♦Hudson 500 

Plattsburg 260 

Greensboro  total) 

♦Ithaca  area 1,700 

♦♦♦Port  Jervis  (also 

Jacksonville  (incl.  in 

Jamestown 100 

incl.  in  Orange 

Wilmington  total) 

Kingston'^ 4,600 

County  total) 560 

Raleigh-Wake  County 

Kiryas  Joel  (also 
incl.  in  Orange  County 

Potsdam 200 



Whiteville  (incl.  in 

total) 10,000 

County 3,600 

Wilmington  total) 

Lake  George  (incl.  in 

Putnam  County.  .    1,000 

Wilmington  area .   1 ,200 

Glens  Falls  total) 

♦♦Rochester 22,500 

Winston-Salem 485 

♦♦♦Liberty  (also  incl.  in 

Rockland  County 

Sullivan  County 
total) 2,100 



Rome 150 

Fargo 500 

Middletown  (incl.  in 

Saratoga  Springs . .  .  600 

Grand  Forks 130 

Orange  County) 

Seneca  Falls  (incl.  in 

Monroe  (incl.  in 

Geneva  total) 


Orange  County) 

♦♦Schenectady 5,200 

**Akron 5,500 

Monticello  (also  incl. 

South  Fallsburg  (also 

Athens 100 

in  Sullivan  County 

incl.  in  Sullivan  County 

Bowling  Green  (also 

total) 2,400 

total) 1,100 

incl.  in  Toledo  total) 

Newark  (incl.  in 

Sullivan  County  .  7,425 


Geneva  total) 

Syracuse'^ 9,000 

Butler  County 900 

Newburgh  (incl.  in 

Troy  area 800 

♦♦Canton 1,580 

Orange  County) 

Utica'^ 1,900 

Cincinnati'^  ....   23,000 

New  Paltz  (incl.  in 

Walden  (incl.  in 

♦♦Cleveland^  . .  .  65,000 

Kingston  total) 

Orange  County) 

♦Columbus 15,600 

New  York  Metro  Area'^ 

Watertown 120 

♦♦Dayton 5,500 


Woodstock  (incl.  in 
Kingston  total) 

Elyria 175 

Fremont  (incl.  in 

Bronx 83,700 

Brooklyn....  379,000 

Sandusky  total) 

Manhattan. .  .  314,500 


Hamilton  (incl.  in 

Queens 238,000 

Asheville^ 1,300 

Butler  County) 

Staten  Island. .  33,700 

♦♦Chapel  Hill-Durham 

♦Lima 185 

Nassau  County 


Lorain 600 

Charlotte"^ 6,000 

Mansfield 180 

Suffolk  County 

Elizabethtown  (incl.  in 

Marietta  (incl.  in 


Wilmington  total) 
♦Fayetteville 320 

Parkersburg,  W.  Va. 

Westchester  County 



Gastonia 210 

Marion 125 

184      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

Jewish  Jewish 

State  and  City       Population      State  and  City       Population 

Middletown  (incl.  in 

Butler  County) 
New  Philadelphia 

(incl.  in  Canton  total) 
Norwalk  (incl.  in 

Sandusky  total) 
Oberlin  (incl.  in 

Elyria  total) 
Oxford  (incl.  in 

Butler  County) 

♦♦Sandusky 130 

Springfield 200 

♦Steubenville 140 

Toledo"^ 6,000 

Warren  (also  incl.  in 

Youngstown  total) 


Wooster 135 

Youngstown"^  . . .  4,000 
♦Zanesville 100 


Norman  (also  incl. 
in  Oklahoma  City 

total) 350 

♦♦Oklahoma  City 


♦Tulsa 2,750 


Ashland  (incl.  in 
Medford  total) 

Bend 175 

Corvallis 175 

Eugene 3,000 

Grants  Pass  (incl.  in 
Medford  total) 

♦♦Medford 1,000 

Portland 14,000 

♦♦Salem 530 


Allentown  (incl.  in 
Lehigh  Valley  total) 

♦Altoona 525 

Ambridge"^ 250 

Beaver  Falls  (incl.  in 

Upper  Beaver  County) 
Bethlehem  (incl.  in 

Lehigh  Valley  total) 
Bucks  County  (lower 

portion)"^ 14,500 

♦Butler 165 

♦♦Chambersburg. ...  125 
Chester  (incl.  in 

Phila.  total) 
♦♦♦Chester  County  (also 

incl.  in  Phila.  total) 


Coatesville  (incl.  in 

Chester  County) 
Easton  (incl.  in  Lehigh 

Valley  total) 

♦Erie 850 

Farrell  (incl.  in 

Sharon  total) 
Greensburg  (also  incl. 

in  Pittsburgh 

total) 425 

♦♦Harrisburg 7,000 

Hazleton  area 300 

Honesdale  (incl.  in 

Wayne  County) 
Jeannette  (incl.  in 

Greensburg  total) 

♦♦Johnstown 400 

Lancaster  area. . .  2,500 

♦Lebanon 350 

Lehigh  Valley  . . .  8,500 
Lewisburg  (incl.  in 

Sunbury  total) 
Lock  Haven  (incl.  in 

Williamsport  total) 
McKeesport  (incl.  in 

Pittsburgh  total) 

New  Castle 200 

Norristown  (incl.  in 

Philadelphia  total) 

State  and  City      Population 

"Oil  City 100 

Oxford-Kennett  Square 

(incl.  in 

Chester  County) 
Philadelphia  area"^ 


Phoenixville  (incl,  in 

Chester  County) 

Pike  County 300 

Pittsburgh^ ....  45,000 

Pottstown 650 

Pottsville 225 

♦Reading 2,200 

♦Scranton 3,200 

Shamokin  (incl.  in 

Sunbury  total) 
Sharon  (also  incl. 

in  Youngstown,  Ohio 

total) 260 

State  College 550 

Stroudsburg 400 

Sunbury"^ 200 

Tamaqua  (incl.  in 

Hazleton  total) 
Uniontown  area  ...  250 
Upper  Beaver  County 


♦♦Washington  (also 

incl.  in  Pittsburgh 

total) 175 

♦♦♦Wayne  County  ..500 
Waynesburg  (incl.  in 

Washington  total) 
West  Chester  (also 

incl.  in  Chester 

County) 300 

Wilkes-Barre"^...  3,200 

♦♦Williamsport 350 

York 1.500 


Cranston  (incl.  in 
Providence  total) 

JEWISH     POPULATION     IN    THE    UNITED    STATES      /      185 

State  and  City     Population 

Kingston  (incl.  in 

Washington  County) 


Providence  area 


Washington  County 


Westerly  (incl.  in 

Washington  County) 


•Charleston 3,500 

••Columbia 2,500 

Florence  area 220 

Georgetown  (incl.  in 
Myrtle  Beach  total) 

Greenville 1,200 

Kingstree  (incl.  in 
Sumter  total) 

••Myrtle  Beach 425 

Rock  Hill  (incl.  in 
Charlotte,  N.C.  total) 

•Spartanburg 330 

Sumter"^ 160 


Sioux  Falls 175 


Chattanooga 1,350 

Knoxville 1,650 

Memphis 8,500 

Nashville 5,750 

Oak  Ridge 250 


Amarillo"^ 150 

•Austin 6,400 

Bay  City  (incl.  in 
Wharton  total) 
•••Baytown 300 

Beaumont 500 

•Brownsville 450 

State  and  City      Population 

•••College  Station-Bryan 


•Corpus  Christi  . .   1,400 

••Dallas 35,000 

El  Paso 4,900 

•Ft.  Worth 5,000 

Galveston 800 

Harlingen  (incl.  in 
Brownsville  total) 

••Houston"^ 42,000 

Kilgore  (incl.  in 
Longview  total) 

Laredo 130 

Longview 1 50 

•Lubbock 480 

Lufkin  (incl.  in 

Longview  total) 

Marshall  (incl.  in 

Longview  total) 

•McAllen"^ 500 

Midland-Odessa  ...  1 50 

Port  Arthur 100 

•San  Antonio  . .  .    10,000 

South  Padre  Island  (incl. 

in  Brownsville  total) 

Tyler 400 

Waco"^ 300 

••Wharton 100 

Wichita  Falls 260 


Ogden 150 

•Salt  Lake  City...  3,500 


Bennington  area  . . .  300 

•Brattleboro 350 

••Burlington 3,000 

Manchester  area  . . .  250 

Montpelier-Barre  . .  550 

Newport  (incl.  in 
St.  Johnsbury  total) 

Rutland 550 

••St.  Johnsbury 140 

State  and  City      Population 

Stowe 150 

Woodstock 270 


Alexandria  (incl. 

Falls  Church, 

Arlington,  and  Fairfax 

counties) 35,100 

Arlington  (incl.  in 

Alexandria  total) 

•••Blacksburg 300 

Charlottesville .  .  .    1,000 
Chesapeake  (incl.  in 

Portsmouth  total) 
Colonial  Heights  (incl. 

in  Petersburg  total) 


Hampton  (incl.  in 

Newport  News  total) 
Harrisonburg  (incl.  in 

Staunton  total) 
Lexington  (incl.  in 

Staunton  total) 
Lynchburg  area. .  . .  275 

••Martinsville 100 

Newport  News- 
Hampton"^  ....  2,400 
Norfolk-Virginia  Beach 


Petersburg  area ....  400 

(also  incl.  in  Norfolk 

total) 1,900 

Radford  (incl.  in 

Blacksburg  total) 
Richmond"^ ....   12,000 

Roanoke 1,050 

Staunton"^ 370 

Williamsburg  (incl.  in 

Newport  News  total) 
Winchester"^ 280 

186      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH     YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

Jewish  Jewish  Jewish 

State  and  City       Population      State  and  City       Population       State  and  City      Population 


Bellingham 400 

Ellensburg  (incl.  in 

Yakima  total) 
Longview-Kelso  (incl. 
in  Portland,  Oreg. 

♦Olympia 450 

***Port  Angeles ....  100 
Pullman  (incl.  in 
Moscow,  Idaho  total) 

•Seattle*^ 29,300 

Spokane 1,300 

*Tacoma 1,250 

Tri  Cities'^ 300 

Vancouver  (incl.  in 

Portland,  Oreg.  total) 
••Yakima 110 







.  110 

Fairmont  (incl.  in 

Clarksburg  total) 




.  160 


.  130 




Appleton  area .... 



.  150 

Fond  du  Lac  (incl. 


Oshkosh  total) 

Green  Bay 


Janesville  (incl.  in 

Beloit  total) 
•Kenosha 180 

La  Crosse 120 

•Madison 4,500 

Milwaukee"^. . . .  28,000 

Oshkosh  area 170 

•Racine 375 

Sheboygan 140 

Waukesha  (incl.  in 
Milwaukee  total) 

Wausau"^ 240 


Casper 100 

Cheyenne 230 

Laramie  (incl.  in 
Cheyenne  total) 



Long  Beach — includes  in  Los  Angeles  County:  Long  Beach,  Signal  Hill,  Cerritos,  Lake- 
wood,  Rosmoor,  and  Hawaiian  Gardens.  Also  includes  in  Orange  County:  Los  Alamitos, 
Cypress,  Seal  Beach,  and  Huntington  Harbor. 

Palm  Springs — includes  Palm  Springs,  Desert  Hot  Springs,  Cathedral  City,  Palm  Desert, 
and  Rancho  Mirage. 

Pomona  Valley — includes  Alta  Loma,  Chino,  Claremont,  Cucamonga,  La  Verne,  Mont- 
clair,  Ontario,  Pomona,  San  Dimas,  and  Upland.  Portion  also  included  in  Los  Angeles 

Sacramento — includes  Yolo,  Placer,  El  Dorado,  and  Sacramento  counties. 

San  Francisco  Bay  Area — North  Peninsula  includes  northern  San  Mateo  County.  South 
Peninsula  includes  southern  San  Mateo  County  and  towns  of  Palo  Alto  and  Los  Altos 
in  Santa  Clara  County.  San  Jose  includes  remainder  of  Santa  Clara  County. 


Denver — includes  Adams,  Arapahoe,  Boulder,  Denver,  and  Jefferson  counties. 


Bridgeport — includes  Monroe,  Easton,  Trumbull,  Fairfield,  Bridgeport,  Shelton,  Stratford, 
and  part  of  Milford. 

JEWISH    POPULATION     IN    THE    UNITED    STATES      /      187 

Danbury — includes  Danbury,  Bethel,  New  Fairfield,  Brookfield,  Sherman,  Newtown,  Red- 
ding, Ridgefield,  and  part  of  Wilton;  also  includes  some  towns  in  neighboring  Putnam 
County,  New  York. 

Hartford — includes  most  of  Hartford  County  and  Vernon,  Rockville,  Ellington,  and  Tol- 
land in  Tolland  County,  and  Meriden  area  of  New  Haven  County. 

Lower  Middlesex  County — includes  Branford,  Guilford,  Madison,  Clinton,  Westbrook,  Old 
Saybrook,  Old  Lyme,  Durham,  and  Killingworth.  Portion  of  this  area  also  included  in 
New  London  and  New  Haven  totals. 

Meriden — includes  Meriden,  Southington,  Cheshire,  and  Wallingford.  Most  included  in 
Hartford  total  and  a  portion  also  included  in  New  Haven  and  Waterbury  totals. 

New  Haven — includes  New  Haven,  East  Haven,  Guilford,  Branford,  Madison,  North 
Haven,  Hamden,  West  Haven,  Milford,  Orange,  Woodbridge,  Bethany,  Derby,  Ansonia, 
and  Cheshire. 

New  London — includes  central  and  southern  New  London  County.  Also  includes  part  of 
Lower  Middlesex  County  and  part  of  Windham  County. 

Norwalk — includes  Norwalk,  Weston,  Westport,  East  Norwalk,  Darien,  Wilton,  part  of 
Georgetown,  and  part  of  New  Canaan. 

Valley  Area — includes  Ansonia,  Derby,  Shelton,  Oxford,  Seymour,  and  Beacon  Falls.  Por- 
tion also  included  in  Bridgeport  and  New  Haven  totals. 

Waterbury — includes  Bethlehem,  Cheshire,  Litchfield,  Morris,  Middlebury,  Southbury, 
Naugatuck,  Prospect,  Plymouth,  Roxbury,  Southbury,  Southington,  Thomaston,  Tor- 
rington,  Washington,  Watertown,  Waterbury,  Oakville,  Woodbury,  and  Wolcott. 


Dover — includes  most  of  central  and  southern  Delaware. 


Greater  Washington — includes  Montgomery  and  Prince  Georges  counties  in  Maryland; 
Arlington  County,  Fairfax  County,  Falls  Church,  and  Alexandria  in  Virginia. 


Ft.  Lauderdale — includes  Ft.  Lauderdale,  Pompano  Beach,  Deerfield  Beach,  Tamarac, 
Margate,  Coral  Springs,  and  other  towns  in  northern  Broward  County. 

Hollywood — includes  Hollywood,  Hallandale,  Cooper  City,  Dania,  Davie,  Pembroke  Pines, 
and  other  towns  in  southern  Broward  County. 

Orlando — includes  all  of  Orange  and  Seminole  counties,  southern  Volusia  County,  and 
northern  Osceola  County. 


Augusta — includes  Burke,  Columbia,  and  Richmond  counties  and  part  of  Aiken  County, 
South  Carolina. 

188      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH     YEAR    BOOK,     1996 


Chicago — includes  all  of  Cook  and  DuPage  counties  and  a  portion  of  Lake  County. 
Elgin — includes  northern  Kane  County,  southern  McHenry  County,  and  western  edge  of 

Cook  County. 
Quad  Cities — includes  Rock  Island  and  Moline  (Illinois),  Davenport  and  Bettendorf  (Iowa). 
Rockford — includes  Winnebago,  Boone,  and  Stephenson  counties. 
Southern  Illinois — includes  lower  portion  of  Illinois  below  Carlinville,  adjacent  western 

portion  of  Kentucky,  and  adjacent  portion  of  southeastern  Missouri. 


South  Bend — includes  St.  Joseph  and  Elkhart  counties  and  part  of  Berrien  County,  Michi- 


Wichita — includes  Sedgwick  County  and  towns  of  Salina,  Dodge  City,  Great  Bend,  Liberal, 
Russell,  and  Hays. 


Lexington — includes  Fayette,  Bourbon,  Scott,  Clark,  Woodford,  Madison,  Pulaski,  and 
Jessamine  counties. 


Alexandria — includes  towns  in  Allen,  Grant,  Rapides,  and  Vernon  parishes. 

Baton  Rouge — includes  E.  Baton  Rouge,  Ascension,  Livingston,  St.  Landry,  Iberville, 

Pointe  Coupee,  and  W.  Baton  Rouge  parishes. 
South  Central — includes  Abbeville,  Lafayette,  New  Iberia,  Crowley,  Opelousas,  Houma, 

Morgan  City,  Thibodaux,  and  Franklin. 


Southern  Maine — includes  York,  Cumberland,  and  Sagadahoc  counties. 


Upper  Eastern  Shore — includes  towns  in  Caroline,  Dorchester,  Kent,  Queen  Annes,  and 
Talbot  counties. 


Andover — includes  Andover,  N.  Andover,  Boxford,  Lawrence,  Methuen,  Tewksbury,  Dra- 
cut,  and  town  of  Salem,  New  Hampshire. 

Boston  Metropolitan  Region — includes  all  towns  south  and  west  of  Boston  within  approxi- 
mately 30  miles,  and  all  towns  north  of  Boston  within  approximately  20  miles.  All  towns 
formerly  part  of  Framingham  area  are  now  included  in  Boston  total. 

Brockton — includes  Avon,  Brockton,  Easton,  Bridgewater,  Whitman,  and  West  Bridgewa- 
ter.  Also  included  in  Boston  total. 

JEWISH     POPULATION     IN    THE     UNITED    STATES      /      189 

Lynn— includes  Lynn,  Saugus,  Nahant,  Swampscott,  Lynnfield,  Peabody,  Salem,  Marble- 
head,  Beverly,  Danvers,  Middleton,  Wenham,  Topsfield,  Hamilton,  Manchester,  Ipswich, 
Essex,  Gloucester,  and  Rockport.  Also  included  in  Boston  total. 

New  Bedford — includes  New  Bedford,  Dartmouth,  Fairhaven,  and  Mattapoisett. 

Springfield — includes  Springfield,  Longmeadow,  E.  Longmeadow,  Hampden,  Wilbraham, 
Agawam,  and  W.  Springfield. 

Worcester — includes  Worcester,  Northborough,  Westborough,  Shrewsbury,  Boylston,  W. 
Boylston,  Holden,  Paxton,  Leicester,  Auburn,  Millbury,  and  Grafton.  Also  included  in 
the  Worcester  County  total. 


Mt.  Pleasant — includes  towns  in  Isabella,  Mecosta,  Gladwin,  and  Gratiot  counties. 


Omaha — includes  Douglas  and  Sarpy  counties.  Also  includes  Pottawatamie  County,  Iowa. 


Laconia — includes  Laconia,  Plymouth,  Meredith,  Conway,  and  Franklin. 


Cherry  Hill — includes  Camden,  Burlington,  and  Gloucester  counties. 

Essex  County — East  Essex  includes  Belleville,  Bloomfield,  East  Orange,  Irvington,  Newark, 
and  Nutley  in  Essex  County,  and  Kearney  in  Hudson  County.  North  Essex  includes 
Caldwell,  Cedar  Grove,  Essex  Fells,  Fairfield,  Glen  Ridge,  Montclair,  North  Caldwell, 
Roseland,  Verona,  and  West  Caldwell.  South  Essex  includes  Maplewood,  Millbum,  Short 
Hills,  and  South  Orange  in  Essex  County,  and  Springfield  in  Union  County. 

Middlesex  County — includes  in  Somerset  County:  Kendall  Park,  Somerset,  and  Franklin; 
in  Mercer  County:  Hightstown;  and  all  of  Middlesex  County. 

Northeastern  N.J. — includes  Bergen,  Essex,  Hudson,  Middlesex,  Morris,  Passaic,  Somerset, 
Union,  Hunterdon,  Sussex,  Monmouth,  and  Ocean  counties. 

North  Hudson  County — includes  Guttenberg,  Hudson  Heights,  North  Bergen,  North  Hud- 
son, Secaucus,  Union  City,  Weehawken,  West  New  York,  and  WoodclifT. 

Somerset  County — includes  most  of  Somerset  County  and  a  portion  of  Hunterdon  County. 

Trenton — includes  most  of  Mercer  County. 

Union  County — includes  all  of  Union  County  except  Springfield.  Also  includes  a  few  towns 
in  adjacent  areas  of  Somerset  and  Middlesex  counties. 

Vineland — includes  most  of  Cumberland  County  and  towns  in  neighboring  counties  adja- 
cent to  Vineland. 


Elmira — includes  Chemung,  Tioga,  and  Schuyler  counties.  Also  includes  Tioga  and  Brad- 
ford counties  in  Pennsylvania. 

190      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

Glens  Falls — includes  Warren  and  Washington  counties,  lower  Essex  County,  and  upper 
Saratoga  County. 

Kingston — includes  eastern  half  of  Ulster  County. 

New  York  Metropolitan  Area — includes  the  five  boroughs  of  New  York  City,  Westchester, 
Nassau,  and  Suffolk  counties.  For  a  total  Jewish  population  of  the  New  York  metropoli- 
tan region,  please  include  Fairfield  County,  Connecticut;  Rockland,  Putnam,  and  Orange 
counties.  New  York;  and  Northeastern  New  Jersey. 

Syracuse — includes  Onondaga  County,  western  Madison  County,  and  most  of  Oswego 

Utica — southeastern  third  of  Oneida  County. 


Asheville — includes  Buncombe,  Haywood,  and  Madison  counties. 
Charlotte — includes  Mecklenburg  County.  Also  includes  Lancaster  and  York  counties  in 
South  Carolina. 


Cincinnati — includes  Hamilton  and  Butler  counties.  Also  includes  Boone,  Campbell,  and 

Kenton  counties  in  Kentucky. 
Cleveland — for  a  total  Jewish  population  of  the  Cleveland  metropolitan  region,  please 

include  Elyria,  Lorain,  and  Akron  totals. 
Toledo — includes  Fulton,  Lucas,  and  Wood  counties.  Also  includes  Monroe  and  Lenawee 

counties,  Michigan. 
Youngstown — includes  Mahoning  and  Trumbull  counties.  Also  includes  Mercer  County, 



Ambridge — includes  lower  Beaver  County  and  adjacent  areas  of  Allegheny  County.  Also 
included  in  Pittsburgh  total. 

Bucks  County  (lower  portion) — includes  Bensalem  Township,  Bristol,  Langhome,  Levil- 
town.  New  Hope,  Newtown,  Penndel,  Trevose,  Warrington,  Yardley,  Richboro,  Feaster- 
ville,  Middletown,  Southampton,  and  Holland.  Also  included  in  Philadelphia  total, 

Philadelphia — includes  Philadelphia  City;  Montgomery,  Delaware,  Chester,  and  Bucks 
counties.  For  a  total  Jewish  population  of  the  Philadelphia  metropolitan  region,  please 
include  the  Cherry  Hill,  Salem,  and  Trenton  areas  of  New  Jersey,  and  the  Wilmington 
area  of  Delaware. 

Pittsburgh — includes  all  of  Allegheny  County  and  adjacent  portions  of  Washington,  West- 
moreland, and  Beaver  counties. 

Sunbury — includes  Shamokin,  Lewisburg,  Milton,  Selinsgrove,  and  Sunbury. 

Wilkes-Barre — includes  all  of  Luzerne  County  except  southern  portion,  which  is  included 
in  Hazleton  totals. 

JEWISH    POPULATION     IN    THE    UNITED    STATES      /      191 


Sumter — includes  towns  in  Sumter,  Lee,  Clarendon,  and  Williamsburg  counties. 


Amarillo — includes  Canyon,  Childress,  Borger,  Dumas,  Memphis,  Pampa,  Vega,  and  Here- 
ford in  Texas,  and  Portales,  New  Mexico. 

Houston — includes  Harris,  Montgomery,  and  Ft.  Bend  counties,  and  parts  of  Brazoria  and 
Galveston  counties. 

McAllen — includes  Edinburg,  Harlingen,  McAllen,  Mission,  Pharr,  Rio  Grande  City,  San 
Juan,  and  Weslaco.  Portion  of  Harlingen  also  included  in  Brownsville  total. 

Waco — includes  McLennan,  Coryell,  Bell,  Falls,  Hamilton,  and  Hill  counties. 


Fredericksburg — includes  towns  in  Spotsylvania,  Stafford,  King  George,  and  Orange  coun- 

Newport  News — includes  Newport  News,  Hampton,  Williamsburg,  James  City,  York 
County,  and  Poquoson  City. 

Richmond — includes  Richmond  City,  Henrico  County,  and  Chesterfield  County. 

Staunton — includes  towns  in  Augusta,  Page,  Shenandoah,  Rockingham,  Bath,  and  High- 
land counties. 

Winchester — includes  towns  in  Winchester,  Frederick,  Clarke,  and  Warren  counties,  Vir- 
ginia; and  Hardy  and  Jefferson  counties,  West  Virginia. 


Seattle — includes  King  County  and  adjacent  portions  of  Snohomish  and  Kitsap  counties. 
Tri  Cities — includes  Pasco,  Richland,  and  Kennewick. 


Huntington — includes  nearby  towns  in  Ohio  and  Kentucky. 


Milwaukee — includes    Milwaukee    County,    eastern    Waukesha    County,    and    southern 

Ozaukee  County. 
Wausau — includes  Stevens  Point,  Marshfield,  Antigo,  and  Rhinelander. 







National  Affairs 

J.  HE  country's  two  LARGEST  PROVINCES  held  elections  in  1994  and 
mid- 1995.  In  September  1994  Quebec  elected  a  Parti  Quebecois  (PQ)  government 
with  a  razor-thin  plurahty  in  the  popular  vote.  The  new  government  committed 
itself  to  hold  a  referendum  on  independence  in  1995  and  reaffirmed  its  intention  to 
make  Quebec  a  separate  country.  The  Jewish  community  of  Montreal,  which  is 
overwhelmingly  federahst,  found  the  results  unsettling,  though  the  news  was  re- 
ceived more  calmly  than  the  first  PQ  victory  in  1976. 

Salomon  Cohen  ran  unsuccessfully  as  a  PQ  candidate  in  Outremont.  Lawrence 
Bergman  and  Russell  Copeman  were  elected  as  Liberals  in  neighboring  Montreal 
districts.  Another  Liberal  winner  was  Yvon  Charbonneau,  a  militant  anti-Israel 
union  leader  in  the  1980s.  Liberal  leader  Daniel  Johnson  claimed  that  Charbonneau 
had  moderated  his  views,  but  he  participated  in  a  March  1995  rally  against  Israeli 
activities  in  Lebanon,  provoking  a  protest  from  Canada-Israel  Committee  Quebec 
chair  Thomas  Hecht. 

Ontario's  June  1995  election  also  saw  a  change  in  the  government,  with  the 
Progressive  Conservatives  (PC)  ousting  the  New  Democrats.  In  a  closely  followed 
race  in  Willowdale,  incumbent  Charles  Hamick  (PC)  defeated  former  Canadian 
Jewish  Congress  president  Les  Scheininger  (Liberal).  Liberals  Monte  Kwinter  and 
Elinor  Caplan  were  reelected  in  Toronto  districts,  while  their  fellow  partisan  Steven 
Offer  lost  his  seat  in  Mississauga. 

Following  its  electoral  victory  in  Quebec,  the  PQ  government  set  up  a  series  of 
commissions  to  examine  options  for  "sovereignty,"  the  label  that  it  used  for  indepen- 
dence. The  Quebec  regions  of  both  B'nai  Brith  Canada  (BBC)  and  Canadian  Jewish 
Congress  (CJC)  submitted  briefs  that  vigorously  opposed  the  sovereignty  project. 
BBC  argued  that  independence  would  not  give  the  people  of  the  province  anything 
they  did  not  already  have,  and  that  the  effects  of  secession  would  be  highly  negative, 
leading  to  a  further  exodus  of  Jews  from  Montreal.  CJC  reaffirmed  the  federalist 
preference  of  the  Jews  of  Quebec  and  was  joined  by  representatives  of  the  Greek  and 
Italian  communities. 

The  House  of  Commons  passed  a  new  hate-crimes  bill  in  June  1995,  which 
increased  the  punishments  for  crimes  motivated  by  racial  or  religious  hatred.  Both 


196      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

BBC  and  CJC  supported  the  bill,  which  generated  controversy  because  of  its  protec- 
tion of  gays  and  lesbians  against  crimes  motivated  by  bias. 

Israel  and  the  Middle  East 

Canada  and  Israel  began  negotiations  on  a  free-trade  pact  in  November  1994.  The 
envisioned  deal  would  give  Canadian  companies  greater  access  to  the  Israeli  market 
and  to  the  Middle  East  as  a  whole.  As  of  1993,  trade  between  the  two  countries 
amounted  to  about  $300  million,  a  small  fraction  of  Israel's  foreign  trade. 

Ontario  signed  an  economic  agreement  with  Israel  in  April  1994,  in  order  to 
facilitate  collaboration  between  companies  in  the  two  jurisdictions.  A  new  venture, 
the  Canada-Israel  Industrial  Research  and  Development  Foundation,  was  an- 
nounced in  May  1994.  It  had  funding  of  $6  million  from  the  industry  ministries  of 
the  two  countries,  as  well  as  private  sources.  It  will  encourage  cooperative  research 
for  commercial  purposes. 

Air  Canada  inaugurated  twice-weekly  nonstop  service  between  Toronto  and  Tel 
Aviv  in  June  1995.  The  competition  on  the  route  with  El  Al  brought  fares  down 
from  previous  levels.  Earlier  in  the  year  El  Al  had  threatened  to  abandon  its  service 
to  Canada  because  of  anticipated  competition  from  a  charter  company.  But  that  did 
not  materialize  and  both  El  Al  and  Air  Canada  enjoyed  high  loads  during  the 
summer  of  1995. 

Refugee  claims  by  Israehs  who  wanted  to  move  to  Canada — claiming  that  Israel 
persecuted  them  or  denied  them  equal  rights — caused  consternation  to  the  Israeli 
government  and  the  Canadian  Jewish  community.  In  1992  and  1993,  for  example, 
over  3,000  people  from  Israel  applied  for  refugee  status  in  Canada,  the  largest 
number  from  any  democratic  state.  Most  of  the  claims  were  ultimately  rejected, 
though  they  were  less  hkely  to  be  rejected  in  Quebec  than  in  Ontario.  The  countries 
that  produced  more  claimants  were  Iran,  Somalia,  Sri  Lanka,  and  Pakistan.  The 
number  of  applicants  declined  in  1994,  but  380  Israeli  claims  were  granted,  more 
than  in  the  previous  five  years  combined.  There  was  still  a  backlog  of  unresolved 
claims  at  the  end  of  the  year. 

The  numbers,  which  increased  substantially  from  1991  to  1992,  included  many 
ex-Soviets,  not  all  of  them  Jewish.  The  fact  that  Canada  gave  credence  to  some  of 
the  claims  was  very  embarrassing  to  Israel,  which  maintained  that  Canada  was  the 
only  country  that  accepted  Israeli  citizens  as  refugees.  Ambassador  Itzhak  Shelef 
asserted  that  "it  is  an  insult  to  one  democracy  that  another  democracy  should  accept 
its  citizens  as  refugees."  His  government  lodged  an  official  complaint  with  Canada 
on  the  matter.  In  August  1994  the  Immigration  and  Refugee  Board  (IRB)  held 
hearings  on  conditions  in  Israel,  providing  a  forum  for  Israeli  lawyer  Lynda  Brayer 
to  pillory  Israel  for  alleged  apartheid-like  policies.  Another  Israeli  lawyer,  Jonathan 
Livny,  and  Canadian  law  professor  Irwin  Cotler  attacked  Brayer's  testimony  and 
attested  to  Israel's  protection  of  human  rights. 

Legal  rulings  added  to  the  controversy.  The  Federal  Court  upheld  the  IRB  and 

CANADA      /       197 

ruled  in  December  1994  that  a  Russian  couple  of  mixed  ancestry  did  not  face 
persecution  in  Israel  and  therefore  did  not  qualify  as  refugees.  In  November  1994 
the  IRB  held  in  another  case  that  a  Jewish  woman  from  Azerbaijan  did  not  qualify 
as  a  refugee  because  she  had  the  option  of  seeking  refuge  in  Israel  and  receiving 
citizenship  there.  Jewish  immigration  advocates  were  concerned  that  by  that  logic 
no  Jew  could  ever  qualify  as  a  refugee  in  Canada.  However,  in  May  1995  another 
IRB  ruling  did  admit  a  Russian  Jewish  woman,  expressly  refuting  the  previous 

Canada  prepared  to  deport  a  Soviet  Christian  family  that  had  become  Israeli 
citizens  and  then  come  to  Canada  as  visitors  and  stayed  after  a  claim  for  refugee 
status  was  denied.  The  Davidov  family  asserted  that  they  could  not  fit  into  Israel 
because  they  were  Christian,  but  Israeli  officials  promised  them  otherwise  and 
assured  them  that  they  would  not  be  returned  to  their  native  Tajikistan.  In  February 
1994  Immigration  Minister  Sergio  Marchi  responded  to  expressions  of  support  for 
the  family  by  allowing  them  to  apply  for  permanent  residence  status  and  remain  in 
their  Ste.  Foy,  Quebec,  home  while  the  application  was  processed. 

On  an  unrelated  matter,  after  two  years  of  deliberations,  the  IRB  rejected  the 
refugee  claim  of  Mahmoud  Mohammad  Issa  Mohammad,  a  Palestinian  terrorist 
convicted  in  Greece  for  attacking  an  El  Al  plane  in  1968.  He  had  been  granted 
permanent  residence  in  Canada  on  false  pretenses  and  then  claimed  refugee  status 
after  his  immigration  permit  was  revoked. 

The  UN  held  a  North  American  Non-Governmental  Organizations  Symposium 
on  the  Question  of  Palestine  in  Toronto  in  July  1994.  Former  Jerusalem  city  council- 
lor Sarah  Kaminker  attacked  Israeli  policy  in  the  capital,  asserting  that  the  goal  was 
to  "turn  it  into  a  Jewish  city  with  only  isolated  Arab  neighborhoods." 

Also  in  July,  17  Canadian  university  presidents  visited  Israel,  led  by  CJC  presi- 
dent Irving  Abella.  They  toured  the  country,  visited  its  universities  and  research 
institutes,  and  met  with  their  Israeli  counterparts. 

Chief  Justice  Antonio  Lamer  visited  Israel  in  November  1994,  where  he  met  with 
Justice  Meir  Shamgar,  his  Israeli  counterpart.  There  was  a  diplomatic  incident  when 
Canadian  ambassador  Norman  Spector  objected  to  Lamer's  intention  to  visit  Beth- 
lehem and  the  Old  City  of  Jerusalem,  accompanied  by  Shamgar,  on  the  ground  that 
it  would  imply  recognition  of  Israel's  occupation.  Lamer  finally  did  visit  the  Western 
Wall  without  notifying  anyone.  Shamgar  and  his  judicial  colleagues  boycotted  a 
reception  at  Spector's  home  as  an  expression  of  their  displeasure. 

The  government  of  Israel  honored  Toronto  community  activist  Judy  Feld  Carr 
at  a  ceremony  in  Jerusalem  in  April  1995.  Speaking  to  the  assembly.  Foreign 
Minister  Shimon  Peres  said,  "I  wish  to  express  our  gratitude  for  the  outstanding 
job  you  did  . .  .  enabling  the  Jewish  community  of  Syria  to  find  a  safe  haven."  Carr 
had  worked  tirelessly  on  behalf  of  Syrian  Jews  for  20  years. 

David  Berger,  a  former  MP,  was  appointed  ambassador  to  Israel  in  1995,  succeed- 
ing Norman  Spector.  Itzhak  Shelef  completed  his  posting  as  the  IsraeH  ambassador 
in  Ottawa  in  the  summer  of  1995.  As  the  fruits  of  his  five  years  in  Canada,  he  could 

198      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

point  to  strong  Canadian  political  support,  the  improvement  of  trade  relations, 
high-tech  cooperation,  and  a  strong  Canadian  presence  in  Israel.  His  successor  was 
Robbie  Sabel. 

Jehudi  Kinar  was  appointed  consul-general  of  Israel  in  Toronto,  succeeding  Dror 
Zeigerman,  while  his  new  counterpart  in  Montreal  was  Daniel  Gal,  who  succeeded 
Itzhak  Levanon. 

Anti-Semitism  and  Racism 

The  Supreme  Court  of  Canada  decided  in  October  1994  to  consider  the  govern- 
ment's appeal  of  the  1993  decision  of  the  New  Brunswick  Court  of  Appeal  in  the 
Malcolm  Ross  case.  Ross  had  been  removed  as  a  public-school  teacher  because  of 
his  anti-Semitic  writings  but  had  prevailed  in  the  Court  of  Appeal.  Subsequently  he 
published  a  book  in  which  he  accused  Jewish  physicians  of  threatening  "Christian 
civilization"  by  performing  abortions — The  Real  Holocaust:  The  Attack  on  Unborn 
Children  and  Life  Itself. 

Wolfgang  Droege,  leader  of  the  racist  Heritage  Front,  was  in  court  on  several 
occasions.  He  was  acquitted  in  January  1994  of  violating  the  terms  of  his  bail  by 
continuing  to  speak  publicly  about  the  Front.  But  he  and  two  followers  were  found 
guilty  of  contempt  of  court  in  June  1994  for  flouting  a  court  order  to  desist  from 
playing  racist  telephone  hotline  messages  and  were  given  three-month  jail  sentences. 
In  early  1995  he  was  sentenced  to  six  months  in  prison  for  his  role  in  a  1993  brawl. 
In  December  1994  a  government  committee  revealed  that  the  Heritage  Front  had 
targeted  some  22  Canadians,  including  several  Jews,  in  a  1993  plot.  One  of  those 
selected  for  murder  was  CJC  official  Bernie  Farber.  The  report  also  noted  harass- 
ment of  some  Jewish  leaders  by  racists  involved  with  the  Front  or  similar  bodies. 

Anti-Semitic  publisher  Ernst  Zundel  encountered  setbacks  in  his  efforts  to  use  the 
broadcast  media.  One  of  his  television  shows  was  dropped  by  a  Texas  station  early 
in  1994;  another  was  accepted  by  a  station  in  upstate  New  York  in  January  1995 
but  was  canceled  after  protests.  He  did  appear  for  an  interview  on  an  Albany  area 
radio  station  in  March.  On  May  7,  1995 — the  eve  of  VE  Day — fire  destroyed  half 
of  Zundel's  Toronto  house,  probably  due  to  arson.  The  perpetrator  was  not  identi- 

Former  teacher  James  Keegstra's  1992  conviction  for  hate  mongering  was  re- 
versed by  the  Alberta  Court  of  Appeal  in  September  1994  by  a  2-1  vote,  because 
of  errors  by  the  trial  judge. 

Prof  Robert  O'Driscoll  was  reprimanded  by  the  University  of  Toronto  for  his 
anti-Semitic  writings.  The  decision  was  based  on  two  reviews  of  his  performance. 
The  university  decided  that  he  had  to  satisfy  conditions  related  to  physical  and 
mental  health  in  order  to  continue  teaching  there. 

B'nai  Brith  reported  an  increase  of  nearly  12  percent  in  incidents  of  anti-Semitic 
harasssment  and  vandalism  in  1994  compared  to  the  previous  year.  The  290  inci- 
dents represented  the  highest  total  in  13  years  of  reporting.  The  increase  was  in  the 
category  of  harassment  (from  151  to  198),  while  vandalism  incidents  declined  from 

CANADA      /       199 

105  to  92.  About  half  of  the  incidents  were  reported  in  the  Toronto  area. 

A  Quebec  City  synagogue  was  defaced  in  March  1 994,  and  swastikas  were  painted 
on  a  Montreal  Jewish  school  in  May.  The  Beach  Synagogue  at  Winnipeg  Beach  was 
defaced  with  swastikas  on  Halloween;  two  teenagers  were  arrested  and  later  apolo- 
gized. Swastikas  were  also  daubed  on  Jewish-owned  businesses  in  Toronto  in  De- 
cember. Anti-Semitic  graffiti  appeared  on  the  Joseph  Wolinsky  Collegiate  School  in 
Winnipeg  in  March  1995,  while  two  campuses  of  the  Associated  Hebrew  Schools 
in  Toronto  received  similar  treatment  later  that  month. 

American  black  radical  Kwame  Toure  (Stokely  Carmichael)  spoke  at  the  Univer- 
sity of  Manitoba  in  February  1994,  expressing  his  usual  anti-Zionist  ideas.  In  May, 
Nation  of  Islam  member  Khalid  Muhammad  was  barred  from  Canada  when  he 
tried  to  enter  for  a  speaking  engagement  at  the  University  of  Toronto.  CJC  president 
Abella  denounced  him  as  a  "racist  agitator."  Muhammad  spoke  to  the  crowd  over 
a  phone  line  and  was  cheered  for  his  attacks  on  whites  and  Jews. 

A  Toronto  radio  station  affiliated  with  the  University  of  Toronto  broadcast 
interviews  with  two  officials  of  the  Nation  of  Islam  in  the  spring  of  1994.  One  of 
them  was  allowed  to  harangue  CIUT's  listeners  with  an  anti-Semitic  diatribe  about 
alleged  Jewish  subjugation  of  blacks.  The  station's  program  director  acknowledged 
that  the  statements  were  defamatory  and  carried  a  retraction  twice  daily  for  two 
weeks.  A  Polish-language  newspaper  in  Edmonton  published  excerpts  of  the  infa- 
mous Protocols  of  the  Elders  of  Zion  in  August  1 994. 

Montreal  researchers  Jean-Francois  Nadeau  and  Gonzalo  Arriaga  found  that 
prominent  Quebec  nationahsts  had  assisted  French  collaborators  such  as  Jacques 
Duge  and  Georges-Benoit  Montel,  both  associated  with  Klaus  Barbie  in  Lyons,  to 
settle  in  Quebec  after  World  War  II.  The  head  of  the  Quebec  network  that  facilitated 
their  immigration  was  historian  Robert  Rumilly.  He  was  assisted  by  Montreal 
mayor  Camilien  Houde  and  Father  Lionel  Groulx,  a  leading  nationalist  figure. 
Political  scientist  Esther  Delisle  found  that  the  collaborators  enjoyed  the  protection 
of  a  number  of  prominent  Quebecers,  including  Louis  St.  Laurent  and  Maurice 
Duplessis.  She  claimed,  too,  that  the  Canadian  embassy  in  Paris  was  connected  with 
the  escape  operation. 

Nazi  War  Criminals 

Legal  action  against  Nazi  war  criminals  living  in  Canada  continued  to  move 
slowly,  with  Citizenship  and  Immigration  Minister  Sergio  Marchi  going  back  and 
forth  on  the  matter  of  funding  for  the  process.  In  February  1995  the  government 
announced  the  initiation  of  proceedings  against  four  accused  war  criminals,  but  said 
that  there  were  insufficient  resources  available  to  proceed  with  eight  additional  cases 
simultaneously.  In  April  1995  the  head  of  the  Justice  Department's  war-crimes  unit, 
Peter  Kremer,  finished  his  term  of  office.  By  June,  the  government,  having  decided 
to  accelerate  the  pace,  was  prepared  to  proceed  against  six  elderly  men,  mainly  of 
Latvian  origin. 

Among  the  accused  were  Erichs  Tobiass,  a  member  of  the  notorious  Arajs  Kom- 

200      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH     YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

mando  in  Latvia  from  1941  to  1943;  Konrads  Kalejs,  a  visitor  to  Canada  who  also 
served  in  the  Kommando;  Joseph  Nemsila,  reportedly  a  member  of  the  HIinka 
Guard  in  Slovakia;  Helmut  Oberlander,  who  served  in  the  Einsatzkommando  in  the 
Soviet  Union  in  1941;  and  Johann  Dueck,  a  policeman  in  Ukraine  between  1941  and 

Nazi  collaborator  Jacob  Luitjens,  who  had  been  deported  from  Canada  to  his 
native  Holland,  was  released  from  prison  there  in  March  1995,  after  serving  two 
years  of  a  life  sentence.  In  the  case  of  Imre  Finta,  who  had  been  acquitted  in  1991 
and  again  in  1993,  in  March  1994  the  Supreme  Court  refused  to  grant  the  govern- 
ment a  new  trial.  It  did,  however,  uphold  the  constitutionality  of  the  war-crimes 
legislation  under  which  Finta  was  tried.  Again  in  June,  following  additional  govern- 
ment appeals,  the  court  refused  to  reopen  the  case.  BBC's  League  for  Human  Rights 
then  petitioned  the  Inter-American  Commission  on  Human  Rights  for  a  declaration 
that  Canada  had  violated  its  international  obligation  to  bring  Nazi  war  criminals 
to  justice  and  that  the  Finta  decision  contravened  international  law. 



The  number  of  Jews  in  Canada,  based  on  the  1991  census,  was  356,315.' 

Toronto  was  by  far  the  largest  Jewish  community  in  the  country,  with  162,605 
Jews,  according  to  an  analysis  of  1991  census  data.  About  45  percent  of  Canada's 
Jews  lived  in  Metro  Toronto,  which  was  the  eighth-largest  Jewish  community  in 
North  America.  Although  religious  identification  with  Judaism  among  Toronto's 
Jews  was  strong,  intermarriage  was  increasing.  About  one-seventh  of  the  Jews 
between  25  and  34  lived  in  intermarried  families.  Also,  nearly  one-seventh  of  the 
Jewish  children  lived  in  homes  where  one  parent  was  not  Jewish. 

Toronto  Jewry's  rapid  growth  in  recent  years  was  fueled  by  immigration,  with 
nearly  a  third  of  the  population  born  in  other  countries.  About  half  of  the  immi- 
grants had  arrived  during  the  past  20  years,  primarily  from  the  Soviet  Union,  Israel, 
or  South  Africa.  Toronto  was  also  a  magnet  for  Jews  from  other  parts  of  Canada, 
especially  Montreal,  with  the  community  absorbing  over  7,000  such  people  between 
1986  and  1991. 

A  study  by  the  Jewish  Federation  of  Greater  Toronto  showed  that  39  percent  of 
the  affiliated  Jews  belonged  to  Conservative  synagogues,  24  percent  to  Reform,  and 
10  percent  to  Orthodox,  though  only  about  half  the  community  belonged  to  a 
synagogue  at  all.  About  two-thirds  had  visited  Israel  at  least  once.  In  terms  of  age, 
the  senior  group  (over  age  65)  at  15  percent  was  about  50  percent  larger  proportion- 

'See  Jim  L.  Torczyner  and  Shari  L.  Brotman,  "The  Jews  of  Canada:  A  Profile  from  the 
Census,"  AJYB  1995,  pp.  227-60. 

CANADA      /      201 

ally  than  the  comparable  group  in  the  general  population.  Although  this  was  a 
common  situation  for  Jews  throughout  Canada,  the  under- 15  age  group  was  also 
growing  (from  19  to  21  percent  between  1981  and  1991),  a  hopeful  sign  for  the 

Montreal  remained  the  second-largest  community,  with  101,210  Jews,  according 
to  an  analysis  of  the  1991  census.  This  was  a  higher  total  than  most  observers  had 
expected,  with  immigration  from  overseas  offsetting  moves  to  Toronto  and  other 
parts  of  Canada.  About  22  percent  of  the  Jews  were  over  age  65,  creating  a  growing 
challenge  for  community  planners. 

A  Federation-Combined  Jewish  Appeal  study  found  an  increase  in  the  intermar- 
riage rate  between  1981  and  1991,  from  5.5  percent  to  9.3  percent  of  married  Jews 
with  non-Jewish  spouses,  though  that  was  still  the  lowest  rate  in  North  America. 
The  likelihood  of  intermarriage  increased  with  education  and  income. 

The  Sephardic  community  of  Montreal  numbered  between  14,500  and  20,500, 
according  to  McGill  University  analysts  Jim  Torczyner  and  Shari  Brotman.  The 
limitations  of  the  census  data  make  it  difficult  to  be  more  precise.  The  Sephardim 
had  more  young  people  than  the  Ashkenazim  and  fewer  aged,  their  educational 
attainments  were  slightly  lower,  they  had  larger  families,  and  they  were  less  affluent. 

Intermarriage  continued  to  be  a  major  problem  in  Vancouver,  with  over  32 
percent  of  Jewish  families  including  a  non-Jewish  spouse.  The  Jewish  Federation  of 
Greater  Vancouver  estimated  the  1994  population  at  21,170,  up  from  19,375  in 
1991.  Most  of  the  influx  into  Vancouver  was  from  other  provinces  rather  than  from 
foreign  countries. 

Communal  Affairs 

The  crucial  issue  in  Toronto  was  the  financial  failure  of  the  Jewish  Community 
Center,  which  ran  up  a  debt  of  approximately  $18  million  (Canadian)  from  expan- 
sion and  questionable  management  practices,  compounded  by  the  failure  of  donors 
to  pay  pledges  due  to  deteriorating  economic  conditions.  With  three  campuses  that 
served  much  of  the  community  facing  closure,  the  problem  was  serious  indeed.  In 
February  1994,  the  JCC  defaulted  on  its  major  bank  loan  and  risked  having  its  assets 
seized.  The  Jewish  Federation  of  Greater  Toronto  (JFGT),  which  had  been  paying 
the  interest  on  the  loan,  stopped  doing  so  because  of  the  uncertainty.  The  saga 
continued  well  into  1995,  with  the  key  questions  being  the  precise  size  of  the  debt, 
originally  estimated  at  $10  million,  what  role  the  Federation  would  play  in  any 
rescue  package,  and  what  would  happen  to  programs,  buildings,  and  staff.  The 
problem  of  finding  the  necessary  resources  was  acute  in  an  environment  of  at  best 
stable  community  budgets. 

After  various  attempts  to  arrive  at  a  solution  fell  through,  the  Federation  an- 
nounced in  July  1994  that  it  had  borrowed  $5  million,  most  of  which  was  turned 
over  to  the  bank  to  cover  part  of  the  debt.  The  JFGT  received  a  first  mortgage  on 
the  property.  United  Israel  Appeal  agreed  to  pay  the  interest  on  the  JFGT's  loan. 

202      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

The  Community  Endowment  Fund  also  loaned  the  JCC  $700,000.  The  Federation 
then  took  control  of  the  JCC  in  August.  The  executive  director,  central  administra- 
tive staif,  and  some  of  the  program  staff  of  the  JCC  were  let  go,  and  programming 
cutbacks  were  announced.  On  the  community's  Super  Sunday  in  September,  many 
of  the  cashiered  JCC  employees  picketed  the  Federation  to  protest  the  loss  of  their 
jobs.  Eventually  severance  arrangements  were  concluded,  the  creditors  agreed  to  the 
restructuring  plan  in  December,  and  a  judge  approved  the  deal  in  January  1995. 

A  special  task  force  of  the  JFGT  reported  in  mid- 1994  on  continuity  in  the 
community.  It  recommended  new  spending  of  $1.2  million  per  year  for  staff  and 
programming  to  combat  assimilation  and  intermarriage.  The  report  asserted  that 
the  central  question  is  "whether  being  Jewish  will  continue  to  be  important  to  Jews, 
or  whether  it  will  become  a  peripheral  and  ultimately  meaningless  part  of  their 
lives."  Key  recommendations  of  the  task  force  included  emphasis  on  family-life 
education,  programs  for  young  adults,  and  Jewish  education. 

In  1994  the  United  Jewish  Appeal  in  Toronto  raised  about  $33  million  net,  The 
conservative  budget  allocation  for  1994-95,  allowing  for  potential  collection  prob- 
lems, was  Overseas — $16.1  million.  National — $3.0,  Community  Service— $3.6, 
Jewish  Education — $7.4,  and  JFGT — $1.8.  In  1995  the  UJA  established  a  new 
division  for  Israelis  living  in  the  area. 

In  Montreal,  the  Combined  Jewish  Appeal  raised  about  $31.5  million  in  its  1994 
campaign,  with  net  proceeds  amounting  to  $27.5  million,  up  about  $150,000  from 
the  previous  year.  In  the  1995-96  budget,  the  allocations  were  as  follows;  Overseas 
— $12.3  million.  National — $2.5,  Local  Services — $12.7.  Montreal  was  now  spend- 
ing more  on  local  services  than  it  sent  to  Israel  (contrasting  with  the  roughly  60 
percent  it  sent  to  Israel  10-15  years  ago). 

In  1992  the  Montreal  Jewish  community  and  the  Quebec  government  made  an 
agreement  to  bring  about  100  Jewish  families  to  Montreal  from  the  former  Soviet 
Union.  For  its  part,  the  government  agreed  to  accelerate  the  immigration  process, 
while  the  community,  through  the  Federation  and  Jewish  Immigrant  Aid  Services, 
covered  the  immigrants'  basic  living  expenses  for  a  year  and  assisted  them  in 
integrating  into  the  Quebec  milieu.  The  program  was  particularly  successful  in 
finding  employment  for  the  immigrants,  who  came  mainly  from  Russia  or  Ukraine, 
but  because  of  cost  factors  was  limited  to  the  100  families.  Many  other  Soviet  Jews, 
perhaps  as  many  as  5,000,  had  come  to  Quebec  outside  of  the  special  program,  b 
May  1994  the  program  was  renewed  to  cover  an  additional  100  families  before  1996. 

The  new  president  of  the  Communaute  Sepharade  du  Quebec  (CSQ),  Joseph 
Gabay,  announced  his  intention  to  foster  rapprochement  between  his  own  constitu- 
ency and  the  Ashkenazi  majority  in  the  Montreal  Jewish  community.  This  effort  was 
endorsed  by  the  Federation  and  the  Quebec  Region  of  CJC.  At  a  seminar  held  under 
the  auspices  of  the  three  groups  in  March  1 994,  Michel  Chokron,  a  former  president 
of  the  CSQ,  warned  of  a  possible  exodus  of  young  professionals  if  Quebec  separated, 
similar  to  what  happened  after  Morocco  became  independent  in  1956.  Other  speak- 
ers, such  as  Maxyne  Finkelstein  of  Federation  CJA  and  Jack  Jedwab  of  CJC,  did 

CANADA      /      203 

not  share  his  apocalyptic  view.  According  to  Prof.  Jim  Torczyner  of  McGill  Univer- 
sity, his  data  showed  Montreal  to  have  a  stable  and  vital  population,  with  immi- 
grants from  overseas  replacing  those  Jews  who  left.  To  him,  the  more  pressing  issues 
were  how  to  deal  with  growing  numbers  of  the  elderly  and  poor  and  how  to  integrate 
Sephaidim  into  the  community's  political  structure.  Steven  Drysdale,  the  Federa- 
tion's executive  vice-president,  noted  the  increase  in  Sephardim  on  his  professional 
staff  and  foresaw  a  time  when  they  would  be  well  represented  in  key  lay  posts  as 

The  CSQ  received  a  great  deal  of  praise  from  Gilles  Duceppe,  the  Bloc  Quebecois 
whip  in  the  House  of  Commons,  speaking  at  a  panel  discussion  in  January  1994. 
After  participating  in  the  annual  CSQ  meeting,  the  separatist  legislator  praised  the 
Sephardim  for  being  active  in  Quebec  society  and  for  exemplifying  the  best  of 
community  involvement.  However,  Duceppe  warned  the  Jewish  community  and 
other  ethnic  groups  against  trying  to  preserve  intact  their  separate  cultures,  which 
could  encourage  a  "siege  mentality."  He  concluded  that  "all  residents  of  Quebec, 
regardless  of  the  cultural  origin,  are  fully  Quebecois." 

When  most  of  McGill  University's  teaching  hospitals  agreed  in  principle  to  a 
merger  that  would  create  a  new  super  hospital,  the  Jewish  General  Hospital  decHned 
to  participate,  preferring  to  retain  its  separate  identity.  The  decision  was  based  on 
considerations  of  how  best  to  serve  the  hospital's  clientele  and  was  not  expected  to 
affect  its  affiliation  with  McGill's  Faculty  of  Medicine. 

Canadian  Jewish  Congress  observed  its  75th  birthday  with  a  gala  celebration  at 
Montreal's  Monument  National  Theater  in  March  1994.  President  Irving  Abella 
reviewed  the  history  of  the  organization  and  that  of  Canadian  Jewry,  pointing  out 
just  how  far  the  community  had  come  in  75  years.  He  said  that  CJC's  greatest 
strengths  were  "elasticity"  and  a  "resolute  and  fiercely  democratic  spirit."  He  also 
praised  the  unified  voice  with  which  Congress  had  represented  the  community. 

In  May  1995,  CJC  held  its  triennial  Plenary  Assembly  in  Montreal.  The  highlight 
was  a  bitterly  contested  election  for  the  presidency  between  Goldie  Hershon  and 
Thomas  Hecht.  Hershon  won  by  16  votes  out  of  847  that  were  cast.  The  election 
was  marked  by  charges  and  countercharges  of  electoral  irregularities,  questionable 
credentials,  organizational  problems,  manipulation,  lack  of  neutrahty  on  the  part  of 
staff,  and  attempts  to  pack  the  election.  Specific  allegations  were  that  the  Hecht  team 
paid  the  registration  fees  of  some  delegates,  especially  youth,  and  that  the  Hershon 
forces  questioned  Hecht's  integrity  in  the  media.  The  news  about  the  conflicts 
surrounding  the  election  was  carried  by  the  general  media,  adding  to  the  sense  of 
embarrassment  felt  by  many  members  of  the  community. 

Hershon  promised  to  emphasize  national  unity,  the  welfare  of  small  communities, 
combating  anti-Semitism,  and  integrating  youth  into  community  affairs.  She  also 
appealed  to  the  Council  of  Jewish  Federations  (Canada)  for  a  larger  budgetary 
allocation  to  offset  the  cuts  of  recent  years.  Hecht  averred  that  he  wanted  to  open 
Congress  to  wider  participation,  "but  Congress  insiders  opted  for  the  status  quo." 
An  issue  in  the  election  that  was  not  generally  addressed  directly  was  Hecht's 

204      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

avowed  support  for  the  Israeli  Likud  Party,  which  some  people  apparently  fdt 
disqualified  him  from  representing  the  community.  In  the  aftermath  of  the  election. 
Justice  Herbert  Marx  of  Quebec  Superior  Court  was  asked  by  Hershon  to  head  a 
commission  to  review  the  organization's  by-laws  in  order  to  prevent  abuses  of  the 
system  in  the  future.  The  particular  focus  would  be  the  rules  governing  the  registra- 
tion of  delegates  and  the  conduct  of  elections. 

In  Winnipeg,  the  Jewish  Community  Council  was  reexamining  its  structure  and 
its  relationship  to  the  many  Jewish  organizations  in  that  city.  In  October  1994  it 
announced  plans  for  a  new  campus  that  would  house  the  Jewish  Museum  of  Western 
Canada,  the  YM-YWHA,  the  Jewish  Community  Center,  the  Joseph  Wolinsky 
Collegiate  School,  the  Ramah  Hebrew  School,  and  community  offices.  The  cost 
would  be  $26  million,  with  part  being  covered  by  federal  and  provincial  grants 
toward  the  museum. 

Rabbi  Meyer  Krentzman  of  Montreal,  who  held  a  number  of  key  community 
positions  over  many  years,  was  arrested  in  January  1994  and  charged  with  traffick- 
ing in  narcotics.  In  particular  he  was  accused  of  attempting  to  sell  cocaine  and 
heroin  to  an  undercover  police  officer,  possession,  intention  to  traffic,  and  conspir- 
acy. Another  man  charged  in  the  case,  Andar  Galandauer,  was  an  officer  of  a  local 
synagogue.  Subsequently,  both  were  also  charged  with  the  production  of  fake  pass- 
ports and  breaking  and  entering,  and  Galandauer  was  charged  with  possession  of 
prohibited  weapons.  Krentzman  faced  two  fraud  charges  as  well  from  1993.  He  had 
held  executive-director  posts  at  the  Jewish  Education  Council,  the  Canadian  Zionist 
Federation,  and  the  Jewish  National  Fund. 

At  the  end  of  February,  Rabbi  Krentzman  pleaded  guilty  to  several  of  the  charges 
relating  to  drug  trafficking,  fraud,  and  issuing  false  declarations.  The  other  charges 
were  dropped.  He  was  sentenced  to  five  years  in  prison,  but  was  paroled  in  the  spring 
of  1995.  Galandauer  pleaded  guilty  in  March  1994  to  ten  charges  and  was  sent  to 
prison  for  five  years  and  eight  months. 


At  the  National  Jewish  Education  Conference  in  Winnipeg  in  April  1994,  Rabbi 
Irwin  Witty,  executive  director  of  the  Board  of  Jewish  Education  of  Toronto, 
defended  the  Jewish  schools  against  charges  that  they  were  not  doing  enough  for 
Jewish  continuity,  arguing  that  the  home,  synagogue,  and  community  had  major 
roles  to  play  as  well.  "The  school  is  supposed  to  replace  the  parents.  The  results  are 
ignorance,  indifference,  alienation,  intermarriage,  and  conversion."  Witty  also  made 
a  clarion  call  for  "a  massive  infusion  of  funds"  from  the  local  communities  as  "the 
only  realistic  approach." 

Federation  CJA  in  Montreal  decided  to  finance  an  afternoon  school  for  the  first 
time.  The  school,  which  opened  in  September  1994  for  children  aged  6-12,  was 
designed  to  fill  the  gap  caused  by  the  closing  of  congregational  afternoon  schools. 
In  Ottawa  a  community-funded  high  school  also  opened  in  September  1994.  In 

CANADA      /      205 

addition,  a  new  campus  of  the  Reform  Leo  Baeck  Day  School  opened  in  Thornhill, 
a  rapidly  growing  Toronto  suburb. 

In  July  1994,  the  Ontario  Court  of  Appeal  unanimously  rejected  the  view  that 
the  Charter  of  Rights  and  Freedoms  required  the  government  to  finance  religious 
education  "for  all  the  diverse  religious  groups  within  Ontario."  This  was  another 
bitter  disappointment  for  the  Toronto  Jewish  community,  which  had  been  striving 
for  years  to  obtain  government  funding  for  its  day  schools  but  had  been  rebuffed 
at  every  turn. 

Community  Relations 

When  Ontario's  Jewish  children  in  the  public-school  system  faced  the  prospect 
of  the  first  day  of  school  in  September  1994  coinciding  with  Rosh  Hashanah,  most 
boards  were  persuaded  by  Jewish  communal  bodies  to  delay  their  openings.  This 
included  virtually  all  boards  in  the  Toronto  and  Ottawa  areas. 

The  policy  of  the  Royal  Canadian  Legion  on  the  wearing  of  head  coverings  in 
Legion  halls  was  a  source  of  continuing  difficulty.  After  disputes  in  1993  with  Sikhs 
who  had  been  barred,  the  Legion's  Dominion  Command  issued  a  directive  to  permit 
the  wearing  of  headgear  required  by  Jewish  and  Sikh  religious  practices.  However, 
at  the  biennial  Legion  convention  in  June  1994,  delegates  voted  overwhelmingly  to 
reject  the  national  policy  and  leave  the  matter  up  to  the  local  branches.  The  explana- 
tion of  opponents  of  the  policy  was  that  heads  must  be  uncovered  out  of  respect  for 
fallen  comrades.  Both  CJC  and  the  World  Sikh  Organization  condemned  the  vote. 

In  February  1994,  the  House  of  Commons  adopted  a  new  opening  prayer  that 
omitted  the  Lord's  Prayer  and  three  references  to  Jesus  that  had  appeared  in  the 
previous  one.  Jewish  MPs  welcomed  the  change. 

In  June  1994,  the  Supreme  Court  ruled  that  three  Jewish  teachers  who  worked 
for  a  school  board  outside  of  Montreal  were  entitled  to  have  Yom  Kippur  off  with 
pay.  The  school  board  had  docked  their  pay  when  they  took  the  day  off  to  observe 
the  holiday. 

The  presence  of  a  congregation  of  messianic  Jews  located  close  to  a  synagogue 
in  the  Montreal  suburb  of  Dollard  des  Ormeaux  led  to  tensions  between  the  two 
groups.  The  Jews  for  Jesus  group  used  a  church  made  available  to  them  by  the 
Salvation  Army.  Rabbi  Mordecai  Zeitz  of  Congregation  Beth  Tikvah  contended 
that  the  group  had  been  targeting  local  Jews  for  conversion,  that  it  "preys  on  Jews 
and  its  raison  d'etre  is  to  convert  Jews."  CJC  tried  to  persuade  the  Salvation  Army 
to  oust  the  congregation,  but  without  success.  Conflict  erupted  in  December  1994 
when  the  messianic  Kehilat  She'ar  Yashuv  put  out  a  sign  with  Jewish  symbols  next 
to  its  Christmas  nativity  scene.  Angry  Beth  Tikvah  members  interrupted  their 
Shabbat  Hanukkah  service,  trespassed  on  the  church  property,  tore  down  the  sign, 
and  trampled  it.  Rabbi  Zeitz  claimed  that  his  worshipers  were  provoked  by  the 
posting  of  the  sign,  which  was  a  "flagrant  violation"  of  a  gentleman's  agreement 
reached  the  previous  summer. 

206      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

Montreal's  YM-YWHA  won  a  reprieve  from  a  $10-million  property  tax  bill  when 
the  Quebec  Court  of  Appeal  ruled  unanimously  in  March  1995  that  it  deserved  to 
be  tax-exempt.  Three  different  municipalities  in  which  the  Y  had  property  had  taken 
the  view  that  it  was  not  entitled  to  such  status  and  had  assessed  taxes  since  1983. 
The  bill  had  threatened  to  bankrupt  the  Y.  The  issue  was  whether  the  Y  was  truly 
a  pubHc  institution.  After  the  Quebec  Municipal  Commission  ruled  in  1984  that  it 
was  not,  because  admission  was  only  available  through  annual  membership,  the  Y 
began  to  offer  day  passes. 


The  issue  ofagunot,  women  who  cannot  remarry  under  Jewish  law  because  their 
husbands  refuse  to  authorize  a  Jewish  divorce,  a  get,  achieved  increasing  promi- 
nence. The  Canadian  Coalition  of  Jewish  Women  for  the  Get  held  vigils  in  seven 
cities  in  February  1 994  in  order  to  publicize  their  case  and  encourage  synagogues 
to  adopt  policies  that  would  impose  penalties  on  recalcitrant  husbands.  At  the 
March  1995  vigil  in  Toronto,  Rabbi  Mark  Dratch  equated  those  who  refused  to 
grant  a  get  to  rapists  or  abusers.  He  contended  that  such  behavior  was  "an  abuse 
of  Torah  and  tradition."  In  1994  CJC  adopted  a  series  of  resolutions  to  facilitate 
solving  the  problem  of  the  agunot.  For  example,  it  expressed  its  opposition  to 
leadership  roles  or  honors  for  recalcitrant  husbands. 

In  a  bizarre  twist  to  the  agunah  issue,  the  father  of  an  1 1 -year-old  Montreal  girl 
arranged  her  betrothal — a  tactic  that  is  permitted  by  Halakhah  (Jewish  law)  but 
has  been  in  disuse  for  centuries — in  order  to  pressure  his  wife  with  respect  to  their 
divorce.  Since  a  betrothed  girl  would  not  be  permitted  to  marry  without  a  get  of 
her  own,  this  created  a  grave  halakhic  problem.  A  great  Israeli  sage,  the  late  Rabbi 
Shlomo  Zalman  Auerbach,  ruled  that  the  betrothal  was  invalid  for  technical  rea- 
sons, thereby  resolving  the  immediate  issue. 

Conservative  Judaism  in  Canada  continued  to  be  troubled  by  the  view  of  many 
of  its  rabbis  that  the  movement  in  the  United  States  was  liberalizing  in  a  manner 
that  compromised  fundamental  Jewish  values.  The  Rabbinical  Assembly's  drafi 
report  on  human  sexuality,  circulated  in  May  1994,  created  controversy  because  it 
countenanced  sexual  relationships  outside  of  marriage  under  certain  circumstances. 
The  question  of  holiness  in  nonmarital  relationships  was  hotly  debated  among 
Toronto-area  Conservative  rabbis,  many  of  whom  were  also  troubled  by  the  report's 
ambivalent  stand  on  homosexuality. 

When  the  final  version  of  the  document  was  issued  in  1995,  Rabbi  Wayne  Allen 
criticized  it  for  legitimizing  social  practices  that  do  not  necessarily  conform  to 
religious  principles.  "This  seems  to  be  a  surrender  to  the  sexual  laxity  of  our  society 
rather  than  an  attempt  to  restate  the  ideals,"  he  said.  Rabbi  Henry  Balser  and  Rabbi 
Allen  suggested  that  it  might  not  have  been  wise  to  take  a  public  stance  on  the  issue 
of  sex  outside  of  marriage.  On  the  other  hand.  Rabbi  Kenneth  Katz  praised  the 
report  for  stimulating  study  and  inquiry. 

CANADA      /      207 

Another  matter  that  accentuated  differences  between  Conservative  Jews  in  Can- 
ada and  the  United  States  was  the  refusal  of  Camp  Ramah  in  Canada  to  distribute 
the  Summer  1994  issue  of  Ramah — the  Magazine,  which  is  published  in  New  York, 
because  of  an  article  about  former  female  campers  who  have  become  rabbis  and 
cantors.  Rabbi  Mitch  Cohen,  the  camp  director,  stressed  that  Conservatives  in 
Canada  did  not  accept  many  of  the  egalitarian  changes  that  now  characterized  the 
Conservative  movement  in  the  United  States. 

The  Montreal  suburb  of  Laval,  which  had  been  declining  in  Jewish  population 
for  about  20  years,  experienced  growth  through  francophone  Sephardic  influx. 
Congregation  Or  Sepharade  de  Laval  appointed  the  Moroccan-born  Rabbi  Moshe 
Nahon  as  its  spiritual  leader  soon  after  his  graduation  from  Yeshiva  University. 
Another  congregation  in  the  area,  le  Centre  Sepharade  de  Torah  de  Laval,  led  by 
Rabbi  David  Banon,  founded  in  1993,  was  planning  to  build  a  synagogue. 

In  an  unusual  experiment.  Temple  Shalom  and  the  Westminster  United  Church 
of  Kitchener,  Ontario,  agreed  to  build  and  share  a  new  facility  in  nearby  Waterloo. 
The  building  will  house  both  a  sanctuary  and  a  community  center. 

A  relatively  new  congregation  in  Vancouver,  Shaarey  Tefilah,  affiliated  with  the 
Union  for  Traditional  Judaism  and  engaged  Rabbi  Mordechai  Scher.  It  was  the  first 
UTJ-affiliated  synagogue  in  the  area.  Orthodox  rabbis  from  Halifax,  Fredericton, 
and  Moncton  formed  Atlantic  Canada's  first  Beth  Din  for  the  purpose  of  arbitra- 
tions and  kashrut  supervision. 

Canadian  Reform  Jews  debated  Rabbi  Alexander  Schindler's  call  for  more  ag- 
gressive conversion  efforts  and  more  involvement  of  non-Jews  married  to  Jewish 
members  in  synagogue  activities.  The  Reform  movement  in  Canada  seemed  more 
skeptical  of  the  UAHC  president's  views  than  its  U.S.  counterpart.  For  example. 
Rabbi  Michael  Stroh,  a  leading  Reform  rabbi  in  Toronto,  emphasized  the  bounda- 
ries imposed  by  tradition  between  Jews  and  non-Jews.  Rabbi  Daniel  Gottlieb, 
executive  director  of  the  Canadian  Council  for  Reform  Judaism,  expressed  similar 
views.  Several  other  Toronto-area  rabbis  stressed  the  differences  between  Reform 
practices  in  Canada  and  the  United  States,  with  the  Canadians  more  to  the  right 
of  the  movement. 

Israel's  Ashkenazic  chief  rabbi,  Israel  Meir  Lau,  visited  Vancouver  in  August 
1994  on  his  first  trip  to  Canada.  He  spent  a  weekend  at  Congregation  Schara 
Tzedeck  and  also  spoke  at  Chabad  House. 


Musica  Beth  Tikvah  presented  a  concert  by  Trio  Lyra  in  May  1994  in  Toronto 
featuring  the  world  premiere  of  Touchpoints  for  Flute,  Viola  and  Harp  by  Harry 
Freedman.  Other  works  performed  were  by  Ben  Steinberg,  Srul  Irving  Glick,  and 
Milton  Barnes,  all  local  composers.  Ben  Steinberg's  new  composition.  In  Memoriam 
Prima  Levi,  had  its  premiere  at  Toronto's  Temple  Sinai  in  January  1995  as  part  of 
a  Holocaust  and  Remembrance  Concert.  A  concert  by  female  cantors  at  Holy 

208      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

Blossom  Temple  in  Toronto  in  April  1995  featured  Roslyn  Barak  and  Faith  Gurney, 
In  Montreal,  the  Canadian  Society  for  Jewish  Music  presented  a  series  of  events  in 
March  1994,  including  a  concert  of  great  Jewish  works  and  a  scholarly  symposium 
on  aspects  of  Jewish  music. 

The  Leah  Posluns  Theater  in  Toronto  was  closed  and  its  season  canceled  in 
September  1 994  because  the  Jewish  Community  Center,  of  which  it  was  a  part,  was 
on  the  verge  of  bankruptcy.  Also  closed  were  the  Institute  for  Jewish  Learning,  the 
Leah  Posluns  Theater  drama  school,  and  dance  and  music  programs. 

Barbara  Lebow's  A  Shayna  Maidel  had  its  Canadian  premiere  at  the  North  York 
Performing  Arts  Center  in  April  1994.  Al  Waxman  directed.  The  Friends  of  Yiddish 
at  Harbord  Collegiate  performed  Der  Yiddisher  Mikado  in  March  to  raise  funds  for 
Yiddish  studies  at  the  University  of  Toronto.  Jason  Sherman's  one-act  ^XzyReadini 
Hebron  premiered  at  Toronto's  Theater  Center  East  in  February  1995.  Gordinin 
America,  a  new  play  by  Beth  Kaplan,  based  on  the  life  of  Yiddish  playwright  Jacob 
Gordin,  who  died  in  1909,  was  presented  at  the  Bloor  JCC  in  Toronto  in  April  1995. 
It  won  the  1994  Canadian  Jewish  Play  writing  Contest. 

Toronto's  Jewish  Film  Festival  was  held  in  April  and  May  1994  at  the  Bloor 
Cinema.  Over  30  features  and  shorts  from  1 1  countries  were  screened,  most  of  them 
recent  films.  The  May  1995  Festival,  also  at  the  Bloor  Cinema,  presented  23  films 
from  nine  countries.  Harry  Rasky's  documentary  film  Prophecy,  about  the  role  of 
prophecy  in  major  religions,  had  its  Canadian  premiere  in  December  1994  in 

Artists,  art  historians,  curators,  and  other  specialists  participated  in  a  two-day 
symposium  on  "Visual  Art  and  Jewish  Identity:  A  Contemporary  Experience"  at 
Montreal's  Saidye  Bronfman  Center  in  March  1994.  One  of  the  discussions  con- 
cerned the  large  stylized  sculpture  of  a  bull's  head,  Sacrifice,  by  Israeli  artist  Han 
Averbuch,  which  stands  at  the  entrance  to  the  SBC.  It  had  been  a  source  of 
controversy  during  its  six  years  on  the  site  because  some  people  saw  it  as  sacrilegious 
or  even  idolatrous.  Several  discussants  gave  their  own  interpretations  of  the  meaning 
of  the  sculpture.  Another  presentation  was  an  analysis  of  the  work  of  Bamett 
Newman  by  Matthew  Baigell,  as  an  attempt  to  determine  just  what  makes  art 
"Jewish."  Other  sessions  dealt  with  "Time  and  Memory;  On  the  Influence  of  Jewish 
Memory  on  Art"  and  "Anti-Semitism,  Persecution  and  Art:  A  Complex  Relation- 

Toronto's  Jewish  Book  Awards  were  presented  in  June  1994  to  Esther  Delide, 
Rabbi  Chaim  Nussbaum  (posthumously),  Gerald  Tulchinsky,  Ariella  Samson, 
Abraham  Boyarsky,  Szloma  Renglich  (posthumously),  and  Ivan  Kalmar, 

Tobi  Asmoucha's  photographic  exhibit  "Home  and  Homeland:  Jewish  Images 
from  Toronto  to  Israel"  was  shown  in  September  at  the  Beach  Hebrew  Institute  in 

Garth  Drabinsky's  Live  Entertainment  company  was  building  a  $24-million  thea- 
ter in  Vancouver  with  seating  for  1,800.  The  architect  was  Moshe  Safdie. 

The  second  International  Conference  of  Yiddish  Clubs  met  in  Toronto  in  October 

CANADA      /      209 

1994.  Ashkenaz,  a  festival  of  new  Yiddish  culture,  was  held  at  Toronto's  Harbour- 
front  Center  in  July  1995.  It  included  presentations  of  music,  theater,  dance,  story- 
telling, and  film. 


Mordecai  Richler  contrasts  his  childhood  memories  of  Zionist  activities  and  his 
Montreal  family  with  his  observations  during  a  1992  visit  to  Israel  in  This  Year  in 
Jerusalem.  He  is  outspoken  about  Jews,  Palestinians,  and  Israelis  as  he  depicts  a 
range  of  colorful  characters,  many  from  his  own  youth.  Canadian  reporter  Bronwin 
Drainie  spent  several  years  in  Jerusalem  on  assignment  and  produced  My  Jerusalem: 
Secular  Adventures  in  the  Holy  City.  Neil  Caplan  published  another  volume  of 
diplomatic  history,  The  Lausanne  Conference,  1949:  A  Case  Study  in  Middle  East 
Peacemaking,  in  which  he  chronicles  an  early  attempt  to  bring  the  enemies  together 
and  points  out  the  opportunities  that  were  missed.  In  Theodor  Herzl:  From  Assimila- 
tion to  Zionism,  a  provocative  psychobiography,  Jacques  Kornberg  argues  that  it 
was  not  the  Dreyfus  affair  that  made  Herzl  a  committed  Zionist,  but  mainly  his 
long-term  effort  to  work  out  the  nature  of  his  Jewish  identity. 

Among  new  works  relating  to  World  War  II  and  the  Holocaust  were  Czestochov: 
Our  Legacy,  a  remembrance  of  Hfe  in  the  PoHsh  city  during  the  Nazi  period  by 
survivors  and  their  offspring,  edited  by  Harry  Klein;  Invasions  Without  Tears,  in 
which  former  Montreal  federation  president  Monty  Berger  recounts  his  wartime 
experiences  with  the  Royal  Canadian  Air  Force,  including  the  liberation  of  Bergen- 
Belsen;  and  Tecia  Werbowski  and  Irene  Tomaszewski's  Zegota:  The  Rescue  of  Jews 
in  Wartime  Poland.  Zegota  was  a  Polish  resistance  organization  that  saved  Jews 
from  the  Germans.  The  authors  point  out  that  at  least  3,000  Poles  were  executed 
for  helping  Jews,  and  thousands  more  were  imprisoned  and  tortured. 

In  the  area  of  Judaica,  new  works  included  Moses  Cordovero's  Introduction  to 
Kabbalah:  An  Annotated  Translation  of  His  Or  Ne'erav  by  Ira  Robinson;  On  Being 
a  Jew:  A  Reform  Perspective,  a  collection  of  essays  by  Rabbi  Dow  Marmur;  Volumes 
1  and  2  of  the  English-Hebrew  Dictionary  by  David  Mendel  Harduf  and  Eleanor 
Harduf;  The  Mystical  Study  of  Ruth,  edited  by  Lawrence  Englander  and  Herbert 
W.  Basser;  Shoshana  Zolty's  fVomen  and  the  Study  of  Torah  in  Jewish  Law  and 
History;  Judaism,  From  the  Religious  to  the  Secular  by  Abe  Arnold;  and  To  Comfort 
the  Bereaved:  A  Guide  for  Mourners  and  Those  Who  Visit  Them  by  Aaron  Levine. 

A  number  of  new  works  related  to  Canadian  Jewry  and  individual  Jews,  among 
them  Renewing  Our  Days:  Montreal  Jews  in  the  20th  Century,  a  scholarly  account 
of  the  development  of  the  Montreal  Jewish  community,  edited  by  Ira  Robinson  and 
Mervin  Butovsky;  Ruth  Frager's  Sweatshop  Strife:  Class,  Ethnicity  and  Gender  in 
the  Jewish  Labor  Movement  in  Toronto;  Garth  Drabinsky:  Closer  to  the  Sun,  an 
autobiography  with  Marq  de  Villiers;  Walter  Stewart's  tale  of  the  Reichmann 
family,  Too  Big  to  Fail,  Olympia  and  York:  The  Story  Behind  the  Headlines;  Goldie 
Grafstein's  autobiography.  Just  About  Me;  Breaking  New  Ground:  The  Struggle  for 

210      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

a  Jewish  Chaplaincy  in  Canada  by  Rabbi  Gershon  Levi;  Sanctuary  Denied,  Gerhard 
Bassler's  book  on  Newfoundland's  immigration  policy;  and  Heritage  of  a  Patriarch: 
A  Fresh  Look  at  Nine  of  Canada 's  Earliest  Jewish  Families  by  Anne  Joseph. 

Two  other  noteworthy  new  books  were  Approaches  to  Anti-Semitism:  Context  and 
Curriculum ,  edited  by  Michael  Brown;  and  Holocaust  Denial:  Bigotry  in  the  Guise 
of  Scholarship  by  Sol  Littman. 

In  the  area  of  belles  lettres,  there  were  two  new  studies  of  A.M.  Klein:  A.M.  Klein: 
La  Reconciliation  des  Races  et  des  Religions  by  Naim  Kattan,  and  A.M.  Klein:  The 
Story  of  the  Poet  by  Zailig  Pollock.  Two  recently  published  novels  were  A  Gift  of 
Rags  by  Abraham  Boyarsky  and  Lovers:  A  Midrash  by  Edeet  Ravel.  Found  Trea- 
sures, edited  by  Frieda  Forman,  Ethel  Raicus,  Sarah  Silberstein  Swartz,  and  Margie 
Wolfe,  is  a  collection  of  Yiddish  stories,  while  Gifts  of  Our  Fathers:  Heartfelt 
Remembrances  of  Fathers  and  Grandfathers,  edited  by  Thomas  Vemy,  is  a  collec- 
tion of  short  stories  and  poetry.  Judah  Denburg's  Old  Roots  New  Trees  is  a  collection 
of  his  poetry  on  biblical  and  historical  themes.  The  Old  Brown  Suitcase  by  Lillian 
Boraks-Nemetz  won  the  B.C.  Book  Prize  for  the  best  children's  book. 

Two  new  journals  were  launched  in  1994-95.  Canadian  Jewish  Studies,  edited 
by  Richard  Menkis,  is  an  interdisciplinary  journal  that  will  focus  on  the  Canadian 
Jewish  experience  in  its  totality.  The  other  is  Jewish  Women 's  Forum ,  edited  by 
Dorothy  Lichtblau. 


Among  the  recipients  of  the  Order  of  Canada  in  1994  and  the  first  half  of  1995 
were  Irving  Abella,  Joe  Segal,  Judith  Hammerling  Gold,  Saul  Chemiak,  Edith  Delia 
Pergola,  Arnold  Steinberg,  Arthur  Fouks,  Edith  Lando,  Paul  Brodie,  Srul  Irving 
Glick,  Arthur  Gelber,  Joseph  Rotman,  Alan  Gold,  Harold  Greenberg,  Albert 
Cohen,  Sorel  Etrog,  David  Lepofsky,  Joe  Schlesinger,  Edith  Strauss,  Lyonel  Israels, 
Leila  Getz,  Peter  Oberlander,  Israel  Asper,  Garth  Drabinsky,  Murray  Koffler, 
Sheila  Kussner,  Ronald  Melzack,  Ofra  Harnoy,  Cyril  Kay,  and  David  Mirvish. 

John  Laskin  was  appointed  to  the  Court  of  Appeal  of  Ontario  while  Henry 
Steinberg  joined  the  Quebec  Court  of  Appeal.  Sylviane  Borenstein  became  the  first 
Jewish  woman  judge  in  Quebec  when  she  was  appointed  to  Quebec  Superior  Court. 

Alan  Rose,  Ian  Kagedan,  Melissa  Singer,  Patricia  Rucker,  Mindy  Skapinker, 
Max  Wolpert,  and  Max  Schecter  were  all  appointed  to  the  Immigration  and  Refugee 
Board.  Michael  Goldbloom  became  publisher  of  the  Montreal  Gazette,  Jacques 
Bensimon  the  managing  director  of  TV  Ontario's  French  network,  Frederick  Lowy 
the  rector  of  Concordia  University,  Ruth  Goldbloom  the  chancellor  of  the  Techni- 
cal University  of  Nova  Scotia,  Sanda  Rodgers  the  dean  of  law  at  the  University  of 
Western  Ontario,  and  Louis  Lenkowski  was  appointed  vice-chairman  of  the  Ontario 
Human  Rights  Commission.  In  politics,  Jacquelin  Holzman  was  reelected  mayor  of 
Ottawa,  while  Bernard  Lang  won  his  sixth  mayoralty  term  in  Cote  Saint-Luc. 

Martin  Friedland  won  the  1994  Canada  Council  Molson  Prize  in  the  Social 

CANADA      /      211 

Sciences  and  the  Humanities.  Abe  Arnold  received  the  Manitoba  Human  Rights 
Achievement  Award.  Mark  Wainberg  won  the  Canadian  Foundation  for  AIDS 
Research  Industry  Research  Award.  Phyllis  Lambert  was  awarded  the  Prix  Gerard- 
Morisset,  while  Ronald  Melzack  won  the  Prix  Marie- Victorin  and  Henry  Saxe 
received  the  Prix  Paul-Emile  Borduas.  All  three  awards  are  part  of  the  Prix  du 
Quebec  competition.  Irving  Ungerman  was  elected  to  the  International  Jewish 
Sports  Hall  of  Fame. 

Within  the  community,  the  following  assumed  leadership  positions:  Sandra 
Brown,  president  of  the  Jewish  Federation  of  Greater  Toronto;  Renee  Bellas,  chair- 
woman of  the  national  executive  of  Canadian  Jewish  Congress;  Donald  Aronovitch, 
president  of  the  Winnipeg  Jewish  Community  Council;  Jack  Chisvin,  president  of 
Canadian  Technion  Society;  Sheila  Engel  and  George  Wasserstein,  members  of  the 
executive  committee  of  the  Council  of  Jewish  Federations;  Edna  Edelberg  and 
Phyllis  Angel  Greenberg,  members  of  the  board  of  directors  of  the  Federation  of 
Reconstructionist  Congregations;  Harry  Bick,  Ted  Greenfield,  Phil  Leon,  and 
Moishe  Smith,  officers  and  board  members  of  B'nai  B'rith  International;  Stephen 
Victor,  national  chairman  of  the  Canada-Israel  Committee;  and  Rabbi  Wayne 
Allen,  president  of  the  Toronto  Board  of  Rabbis.  Among  those  assuming  profes- 
sional appointments  were  Gerry  Weiner,  national  executive  director  of  the  Canadian 
Society  for  the  Weizmann  Institute  of  Science;  Jack  Jedwab,  executive  director  of 
CJC,  Quebec  Region;  Robert  Libman,  BBC  Quebec  director;  and  Mordechai  Ben- 
Dat,  editor  of  the  Canadian  Jewish  News.  Among  those  leaving  community  posts 
were  Patricia  Rucker,  editor  of  the  Canadian  Jewish  News,  and  Ian  Kagedan, 
director  of  government  relations  for  BBC. 

Samuel  Bronfman  Medals  for  distinguished  service  were  presented  by  CJC  to 
Alan  Rose  and  David  Satok.  Judy  Feld  Carr  won  the  Saul  Hayes  Human  Rights 
Award  and  Donald  Carr  received  the  Sam  Filer  Distinguished  Service  Award. 

Elaine  Zeitz  married  Jonathan  Pollard  at  his  prison  in  North  Carolina  in  May 

Among  leading  members  of  the  community  who  died  during  1994  were  Sammy 
Taft,  hatter  to  the  rich  and  famous,  in  January,  aged  80;  pioneering  labor  leader 
Harry  Simon,  in  January,  aged  84;  Rabbi  Norman  Frimer,  scholar  and  former  Hillel 
director,  in  January,  aged  77;  microbiologist  and  cancer  researcher  Prof  Hannah 
Farkas-Hinsley,  in  February,  aged  76;  longtime  York  alderman  Ben  Nobleman,  in 
February,  aged  69;  Dr.  Martin  Breitman,  geneticist  and  cancer  researcher,  in  Febru- 
ary, aged  41;  Matt  Ages,  businessman,  in  February,  aged  74;  world-renowned  Torah 
scholar  Rabbi  Abraham  Price,  in  March,  aged  94;  businessman  and  philanthropist 
Sam  Rotman,  in  March,  aged  84;  Michael  Solomon,  author,  journalist,  and  editor, 
in  March,  aged  84;  former  Toronto  Symphony  concertmaster  Hyman  Goodman,  in 
March,  aged  81;  Goodwin  "Goody"  Rosen,  former  Brooklyn  Dodger,  in  April,  aged 
81;  high-school  teacher  and  Holocaust  specialist  Susan  Soberman,  in  April,  aged  48; 
Ben  Himel,  businessman  and  passionate  supporter  of  Yiddish  education,  in  April, 
aged  90;  Mayer  Lewkowicz,  Montreal's  bagel  king,  in  April,  aged  65;  noted  restau- 

212      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH     YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

rateur  Israel  (Izzy)  Shopsowitz,  in  May,  aged  71;  Rabbi  Chaim  Nussbaum,  educa- 
tor, author,  and  Talmud  scholar,  in  June,  aged  84;  businessman  and  Winnipeg 
community  leader  Saul  Simpkin,  in  June,  aged  78;  David  Reichmann,  executive  in 
the  Reichmann  organization,  in  August,  aged  34;  businessman  and  philanthropist 
Arthur  Pascal,  in  August,  aged  86;  Wilferd  Gordon,  rabbi,  lawyer,  and  educational 
leader,  in  August,  aged  85;  Dr.  Irvine  Israel  Glass,  physicist  who  worked  on  space- 
craft reentry  problems,  in  October,  aged  76;  businessman  and  philanthropist  Israel 
Koschitzky,  in  November,  aged  89;  Carl  Cole,  founder  of  one  of  Canada's  largest 
bookstore  chains,  in  December,  aged  82;  Elias  Silverman,  founder  of  a  Toronto 
kosher  bakery,  in  December,  aged  78;  and  Sephardi  community  leader  Salomon 
Benbaruk,  in  December,  aged  74. 

Those  who  died  in  1995  included  Henry  Steinberg,  justice  of  the  Quebec  Court 
of  Appeal,  in  January,  aged  58;  Sydney  Maislin,  trucking  executive  and  community 
leader,  in  February,  aged  72;  senior-citizen  advocate  Sara  Wayman,  in  March,  aged 
84;  photographer  Allan  Anshan,  in  April,  aged  45;  Louis  Lenkinski,  union  leader 
and  CJC  leader,  in  June,  aged  74;  journaHst  and  playwright  Ted  Allan,  in  June,  aged 
79;  Saidye  Rosner  Bronfman,  philanthropist,  patron  of  the  arts,  and  matriarch  of 
the  community's  premier  family,  in  July,  aged  98;  and  Alan  Rose,  recently  retired 
executive  vice-president  of  Canadian  Jewish  Congress,  in  July,  aged  74. 

Harold  M.  Waller 

Latin  America 


National  Affairs 

J.  HE  PERIOD  1994  AND  EARLY  1995  in  many  ways  marked  a  turning 
point  in  the  history  of  contemporary  Mexico  and  in  the  development  of  its  Jewish 
community.  Dramatic  changes  occurred  in  the  country's  economic,  political,  and 
sociocultural  structures,  impelled  by  a  newly  activist  and  sophisticated  populace 
pushing  for  reform  and  greater  democratization.  At  the  same  time,  elements  critical 
of  the  regime  and  the  slow  pace  of  reform  were  the  source  of  violence  and  turmoil. 
Even  as  the  government  of  former  president  Carlos  Salinas  de  Gortari  was  about 
to  reap  the  major  gains  of  the  radical  reforms  it  had  implemented — most  signifi- 
cantly the  signing  of  the  North  American  Free  Trade  Agreement  between  Mexico, 
the  United  States,  and  Canada — on  the  very  day  that  the  treaty  went  into  effect, 
January  1,  1994,  Mexican  society  was  shaken  by  news  of  guerrilla  warfare  in  the 
southeastern  state  of  Chiapas. 

Major  gaps  in  wealth  distribution,  an  unjust  division  of  land,  and  the  continuing 
oppression  of  the  mainly  Indian  population  by  local  authoritarian  regimes  were 
some  of  the  causes  behind  the  uprising,  but  they  struck  a  chord  nationally.  The 
uprising  exposed  the  deep  socioeconomic  and  ethnic  rifts  in  Mexican  society,  which 
only  periodically  resulted  in  open  conflict  and  urgent  calls  for  greater  democratiza- 
tion. Mexican  society  embraced  the  previously  unknown  National  Liberation  Zapa- 
tista Army  (EZLN)  with  ambivalence,  the  most  conservative  elements  urging  the 
government  to  act  forcefully  against  the  rebels,  the  intellectual  and  political  leaders 
of  progressive  circles  welcoming  the  Zapatista  army's  activities  as  a  spur  to  the 
development  of  a  more  open  and  pluralistic  system. 

Although  the  ruling  Revolutionary  Institutional  Party  (PRI) — which  had  gov- 
erned Mexico  for  over  60  years  in  an  essentially  one-party  system — had  since  the 
late  1980s  seen  the  emergence  of  a  reform  element  committed  to  implementing 
serious  structural  change,  the  minor  uprising  in  Chiapas  showed  that  the  system  was 
unable  to  keep  popular  opposition  movements  in  check.  At  the  same  time,  the 
assassination  in  March  1994  of  Luis  Donaldo  Colosio,  the  PRI's  presidential  candi- 


214      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

date,  while  campaigning  in  northern  Mexico,  was  generally  acknowledged  to  be 
linked  to  the  conflicts  within  the  PRI  between  reformers  and  "dinosaurs,"  or 
conservatives,  reflecting  the  deep  spHt  in  the  party.  In  fact,  at  the  beginning  of  I995 
suspects  were  charged  in  the  case  who  had  close  links  to  the  antireform  faction. 

Federal  elections  for  president  and  Congress  on  August  21,  1994  proved  to  be  a 
htmus  test  of  the  system's  willingness  and  abiUty  to  implement  democracy  in  the 
country.  Fear  of  what  change  could  imply  was  apparently  behind  the  almost  50- 
percent  figure  that  put  Ernesto  Zedillo  of  the  PRI  in  power,  while  the  candidate  of 
the  moderate  rightist  National  Action  Party  (PAN)  came  in  second,  and  combative 
"leftist"  Cuauhtemoc  Cardenas  third.  The  Chamber  of  Deputies  and  the  Senate, 
which  had  been  almost  exclusively  under  the  PRI's  control,  now  opened  their  doors 
to  a  significant  number  of  opposition  representatives  (more  than  40  percent),  forcing 
the  government  to  build  alliances  in  order  to  implement  its  program. 

Mexican  society  was  shocked  once  again,  in  September,  by  the  murder  of  Jose 
Francisco  Ruiz  Massieu,  general  secretary  of  the  PRI  and  leader  of  the  party's 
majority  faction  in  the  Chamber  of  Deputies,  which  was  to  be  sworn  in  in  Novem- 
ber. This  time  the  investigation  pointed  clearly  to  an  open  conspiracy.  Ruiz  Massieu 
was  a  prominent  ideologue  for  reform  and  a  key  liaison  with  the  opposition.  On  the 
last  day  of  February  1995,  Raul  Salinas,  brother  of  Mexico's  former  president  Carlos 
Salinas  de  Gortari,  was  arrested  on  charges  of  plotting  the  murder. 

Upon  taking  office  in  December  1994,  President  Zedillo  stated  his  willingness  to 
promote  an  ongoing  dialogue  with  the  opposition  and  took  important  steps  to  seek 
a  peaceful  solution  in  Chiapas.  However,  in  a  reprise  of  events  at  the  beginning  of 
the  year,  the  end  of  1994  was  characterized  by  turmoil.  With  speculative  foreign 
investment  and  unrestricted  imports  flooding  the  market,  Mexico's  commercial 
balance  showed  a  distressing  deficit.  The  peso  had  been  subsidized  artificially  for  too 
long,  and  a  major  devaluation,  resulting  in  a  volatile  currency  and  a  sharp  rise  in 
prices,  shocked  rich  and  poor  alike.  The  bottom  line  was  a  loss  of  confidence  in 
government  institutions  and  the  prospect  of  an  acute  financial  and  political  crisis. 

The  U.S.  government  put  together  a  $20-billion  loan  as  part  of  an  international 
bailout  package  of  $52  billion,  but  the  tough  conditions  imposed  by  the  Interna- 
tional Monetary  Fund  to  insure  repayment  halted  economic  growth  and  froze 
government  spending.  The  administration  concentrated  its  efforts  on  stabilizing  the 
peso,  putting  a  brake  on  inflation,  which  was  expected  to  rise  beyond  40  percent, 
and  attracting  foreign  investment  through  high  yields.  These  severe  measures,  which 
included  hikes  in  the  prices  of  gas  and  public  utilities  and  higher  taxes,  harmed 
President  Zedillo's  standing,  especially  as  he  was  unable  to  rally  the  public  behind 
his  efforts  to  restore  the  country's  finances. 

In  the  political  arena,  dialogue  was  reestablished  in  Chiapas.  However,  opposition 
forces  demonstrated  continually  against  the  terms  of  international  loans,  the  han- 
dling of  the  Chiapas  conflict,  and  the  lack  of  accountability  of  the  previous  adminis- 
tration, which  they  viewed  as  having  betrayed — through  mismanagement  and  cor- 
ruption— the  great  expectations  most  Mexicans  had  for  poHtical  stability  and 

MEXICO      /      215 

economic  development.  Hence,  the  national  mood  in  mid-1995  was  not  at  all  opti- 

Israel  and  the  Middle  East 

In  December  1991,  Mexico  had  been  one  of  85  countries  cosponsoring  the  initia- 
tive to  revoke  the  United  Nations  "Zionism  is  racism"  resolution.  This  act  signaled 
a  growing  disposition  on  the  part  of  the  Mexican  government  to  reconcile  its 
bilateral  and  multilateral  relations  with  Israel.  For  the  last  four  decades,  close 
economic  and  cultural  hnks  were  promoted  at  the  federal  level  and  by  local  groups, 
such  as  many  associations  of  friends  of  Israeli  universities  and  the  Israel-Mexico 
Cultural  Institute.  These  ties,  which  had  been  tested  during  the  1973  embargo,  when 
Mexico  sold  oil  to  Israel  despite  Arab  threats,  contrasted  sharply  with  Mexico's 
consistent  anti-Israel  voting  pattern  in  international  forums,  especially  during  the 
1970s,  when  Third  World  and  nonaligned  anti-Zionist  rhetoric  pervaded  the  UN 
and  associated  agencies.  Mexico's  policy,  according  to  both  official  and  nonofficial 
sources,  was  intended  as  a  statement  of  opposition  to  the  United  States  and  had 
nothing  to  do  with  an  anti-Israel  bias.  However,  it  was  a  continuing  source  of 
contention  with  the  Israeli  government  and  the  Mexican  Jewish  community.  Al- 
though Mexico  did  officially  denounce  the  bombing  of  the  Jewish  community  build- 
ing in  Buenos  Aires  on  July  18,  1994,  and  the  terrorist  attacks  against  Jewish 
institutions  in  London  in  July  and  against  civihans  in  Tel  Aviv's  Dizengoff  Street 
in  October,  its  continuing  support  for  the  self-determination  of  the  Palestinian 
people  kept  the  government  from  openly  condemning  anti-Semitism,  Palestinian 
extremism,  and  Islamic  fundamentalism. 

Another  irritant,  though  on  a  bilateral  scale,  was  Israel's  trade  deficit  with  Mexico 
and  the  fact  that  until  very  recently  no  serious  effort  was  put  forth  to  close  the  gap. 
In  1994,  however,  Israel  increased  and  diversified  its  exports  to  Mexico  in  the  area 
of  communications  and  agricultural  technology. 

Despite  the  problems  in  the  diplomatic  and  economic  spheres,  Israeli  culture  was 
much  in  evidence  in  Mexico — both  within  the  context  of  the  Jewish  community  and 
outside  it.  (See  "Israel-Related  Activities,"  below.)  The  Israel-Mexico  Cultural 
Institute,  working  very  closely  with  the  Israeli  embassy,  presented  at  its  downtown 
Mexico  City  premises  an  array  of  concerts,  art  and  photo  exhibits,  lectures,  and 
Hebrew  classes,  all  aimed  at  acquainting  the  Mexican  public  with  different  aspects 
of  Israeli  life. 

At  the  beginning  of  1994  and  again  in  1995,  the  Mexican  Association  of  Friends 
of  the  Hebrew  University  presented  programs  titled  "Three  Women,  Three  Expres- 
sions," with  lecturers  from  the  university  speaking  on  a  wide  range  of  subjects  in 
academic  and  community  forums. 

In  February  1995,  in  connection  with  the  35th  anniversary  of  the  Israel  Museum, 
the  exhibit  "Treasures  of  the  Holy  Land" — the  largest  collection  of  antiquities  to 
travel  outside  of  Israel  to  date — was  shown  in  one  of  Mexico  City's  most  prestigious 

216      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

museums,  the  Cultural  Center  of  Contemporary  Art.  Teddy  Koliek,  the  former 
mayor  of  Jerusalem  and  acting  honorary  chairman  of  the  Association  of  Friends  of 
the  Israel  Museum,  attended  the  exhibition  opening.  In  conjunction  with  the  dis- 
play, several  conferences  on  Mexican  and  Israeli  culture  were  organized  by  local 
archaeology  museums. 

Several  Israeli  public  figures  visited  Mexico  during  1994.  On  May  26  and  27, 
Foreign  Minister  Shimon  Peres  met  in  Mexico  City  with  President  Salinas,  Finance 
Minister  Pedro  Aspe,  and  his  counterpart,  Manuel  Tello.  He  also  delivered  a  talk 
at  the  Jewish  Sport  Center  and  had  dinner  with  some  of  Mexico's  leading  intellectu- 

Israel's  Ashkenazic  chief  rabbi,  Israel  Meir  Lau,  met  with  President  Salinas  at  the 
end  of  June  1994  at  the  president's  official  residence  in  Los  Pinos.  During  the  first 
week  of  November,  Deputy  Foreign  Minister  Yossi  Beilin  took  part  in  the  Confer- 
ence of  Latin  American  Jewish  Communities,  organized  by  the  World  Jewish  Con- 
gress and  the  Jewish  community  of  Mexico.  His  talk  emphasized  the  need  for  a 
change  in  the  dynamics  of  Israel-Diaspora  relations,  with  an  emphasis  on  reciproc- 
ity and  acknowledgment  that  the  ties  could  not  be  exclusively  financial.  In  this 
session,  Yehiel  Leket,  chairman  of  the  Jewish  Agency,  presented  a  different  view, 
based  on  his  institution's  traditional  position. 

Anti-Semitism  and  Extremism 

Attitudes  toward  Jews  in  Mexican  society  stem  from  a  variety  of  sources  and  are 
often  contradictory.  A  legacy  of  intolerance  dating  back  to  the  16th-century  Inquisi- 
tion contrasts  sharply  with  the  warm  welcome  bestowed  at  the  beginning  of  this 
century  upon  new  immigrants,  who  found  in  Mexico  a  hospitable  promised  land, 

In  modern  Mexican  history,  except  for  the  1930s,  anti-Semitism  has  never  been 
sponsored  or  promoted  by  the  government,  nor  has  it  been  central  to  the  agendas 
of  political  parties  or  organized  movements.  Nevertheless,  a  certain  level  of  anti- 
Semitism  persists  in  society  at  large.  The  extreme  right,  for  example,  has  formed 
clandestine  cells,  some  of  which — based  mainly  in  the  city  of  Guadalajara — express 
their  anti-Jewish  messages  through  publications  available  by  subscription,  though 
these  have  limited  circulation.  One  such  is  Salvador  Abascal's  La  Hoja  de  Combaie 
(Combat  Newsletter).  This  newsletter  publicized  a  myriad  of  books  by  former 
journalist  Salvador  Borrego,  who  is  undoubtedly  the  most  prolific  anti-Semitic 
author  in  Spanish,  his  books  being  distributed  in  Latin  America  and  the  southern 
United  States. 

Mexico  is  among  the  most  active  publishers  and  distributors  of  anti-Semitic 
literature  on  the  American  continent.  Classic  anti-Jewish  works  such  as  Henry 
Ford's  The  International  Jew  and  the  Protocols  of  the  Elders  ofZion  are  part  of  an 
extensive  collection  that  is  published  locally  and  circulated  in  Mexico  and  abroad. 
With  the  strengthening  of  racism  and  neo-Nazism  worldwide,  the  extreme  right  in 
Mexico  has  found  fertile  ground  for  promoting  its  pernicious  messages.  References 

MEXICO      /      217 

to  an  international  Jewish  conspiracy  as  well  as  the  deicide  accusation  even  appear 
from  time  to  time  in  respected  media. 

Although  Holocaust  revisionist  movements  have  not  developed  in  Mexico,  the 
Institute  for  Historical  Review,  a  revisionist  group  based  in  California,  has  tried  to 
get  a  foothold  in  the  country  through  the  distribution  of  propaganda  in  strategic 
places  and  the  introduction  of  works  by  British  revisionist  David  Irving.  Lyndon 
LaRouche's  political  cult  has  been  active  as  well  through  the  Movement  for 
Iberoamerican  Solidarity,  which  publishes  a  newspaper  that  continually  emphasizes 
a  "British  Zionist  conspiracy."  Popular  movements  containing  remnants  of  the 
extreme  left  have  at  times  expressed  anti-Semitic/anti-Zionist  messages.  These  de- 
rive from  traditional  Marxist  ideology  or  from  an  anti-imperialist  posture. 

During  the  1970s  and  1980s,  a  major  anti-Israel  propaganda  effort  was  launched 
by  the  local  Arab  camp — Arab  embassies  and  Arab  communities,  the  Arab  League, 
the  PLO  office,  and  PLO-supported  groups — which  at  times  included  anti-Semitic 
references.  With  Mexico  now  seeking  to  change  its  international  profile  and  aban- 
doning Third  World  rhetoric,  and  with  the  developments  in  the  Middle  East  peace 
process,  this  activity  was  toned  down. 

In  the  last  few  years,  a  potential  center  of  Muslim  fundamentalist  activity  was 
detected  in  the  northern  city  of  Torreon,  which  boasts  the  only  Shi'ite  mosque  in 
the  country.  Torreon  is  the  headquarters  of  propagandist  Augusto  Hugo  Pena,  who 
sent  a  steady  stream  of  virulent  anti-Semitic  letters  to  the  daily  Excelsior,  denounc- 
ing Israel  as  a  terrorist  state  and  questioning  Mexican  Jewry's  loyalty  to  the  country. 

Viewed  against  this  general  background,  and  in  the  turmoil  that  prevailed  in  1994 
and  the  first  half  of  1995,  anti-Semitism  in  Mexico  actually  remained  at  a  signifi- 
cantly low  level.  Several  factors  may  account  for  this:  (1)  Mexican  society's  preoccu- 
pation with  the  presidential  succession  and  the  political  crises  occurring  throughout 
the  year;  (2)  developments  in  the  Middle  East  peace  process,  which  neutralized  one 
of  the  main  sources  of  anti-Zionist/anti-Semitic  propaganda;  (3)  Mexican  Jewry's 
enhanced  status  in  the  new  climate  of  tolerance  of  diversity  and  pluralism  (see 
below);  (4)  public-relations  activity  conducted  by  Tribuna  Israelita,  the  commu- 
nity's official  human-relations  and  antidefamation  agency,  aimed  at  sensitizing  polit- 
ical, religious,  media,  and  intellectual  circles  to  the  legitimate  concerns  of  Mexican 
Jewry  and  building  alliances  based  on  national  issues. 

On  the  positive  side,  the  media,  traditionally  open  to  presenting  anti-Semitic 
expressions  and  views,  were  almost  completely  free  of  this  type  of  material  during 
this  period.  Analysts  and  editorial  writers  preserved  a  balanced  outlook  on  develop- 
ments, even  at  critical  moments.  Whether  it  was  Hebron,  Buenos  Aires,  or  Tel  Aviv, 
the  vast  majority  of  Mexican  commentators  remained  staunch  supporters  of  the 
peace  negotiations  and  firm  critics  of  terrorism  and  fundamentalism.  Moreover,  the 
appearance  of  anti-Semitic  "letters  to  the  editor,"  previously  commonplace,  de- 
creased significantly. 

On  the  negative  side  of  the  ledger,  the  traditional  tactic  of  singling  out  Jews  for 
blame  during  times  of  crisis  was  adopted  by  advocates  of  a  new  ideology  that  took 

218      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

root  in  Mexico  in  the  early  1990s  and  became  increasingly  overt  and  aggressive. 
Dubbed  "Neo-Mexicanism,"  its  adherents  promoted  an  idealized  image  of  Mexico's 
Indian  past  and  scorned  Europe's  role  in  forging  the  national  identity.  In  this 
context  Jews  were  singled  out  as  the  culprits,  blamed  for  the  acute  problems  haunt- 
ing Mexico  and  other  Latin  American  nations.  Its  most  vicious  proponent,  the 
Mexican  Eagles  Party  (Partido  de  las  Aguilas  Mexicanas),  which  daily  covered  the 
outer  walls  of  Mexico  City's  cathedral  with  anti-Jewish  graffiti,  claimed  that  Mexi- 
can Jewry  (which  ostensibly  includes  the  former  and  present  presidents  of  Mexico 
as  well  as  many  other  government  officials)  controlled  the  politics  and  finances  of 
the  country  and  should  be  held  accountable  for,  among  other  things,  the  conflict 
in  the  state  of  Chiapas  and  for  exploiting  the  poor.  Spokespersons  for  other  right- 
wing  radical  groups — among  them  LaRouche's  Dennis  Small  during  one  of  his 
lectures  at  the  beginning  of  1994 — also  blamed  the  Jews,  especially  Sephardic  Jews, 
for  involvement  in  the  Chiapas  uprising  (presumably  on  the  assumption  that  because 
the  guerrilla  leaders  had  Spanish  names,  they  must  be  related  to  Sephardic  Jews!). 

The  signs  of  recession  evident  even  before  the  December  devaluation  increased 
social  tensions,  producing  a  gloomy  outlook  for  Mexico's  future  only  partially 
mitigated  by  peaceful  elections  in  August.  Throughout  the  year  there  was  a  signifi- 
cant increase  in  the  appearance  of  swastikas  and  anti-Jewish  graffiti,  especially  in 
Jewish  residential  areas;  however,  this  often  occurred  during  election  campaigns  in 

The  further  deterioration  of  the  Mexican  economy  in  the  first  half  of  1995  and 
the  severe  measures  imposed  on  the  population  by  the  international  bankers  pro- 
voked a  rash  of  popular  demonstrations  in  Mexico  City's  main  thoroughfares.  Jews 
were  one  of  the  targets,  based  on  the  alleged  link  between  Jews  and  the  International 
Monetary  Fund,  which  was  blamed  for  Mexico's  diminished  sovereignty. 

With  future  perspectives  still  uncertain,  with  Mexico  immersed  in  economic 
recession  and  political  and  social  instability,  the  Jewish  community  was  closely 
monitoring  anti-Semitic  indicators. 



According  to  a  sociodemographic  study  conducted  by  the  Hebrew  University  of 
Jerusalem  and  El  Colegio  de  Mexico  in  1991,  sponsored  by  the  Mexican  Association 
of  Friends  of  the  Hebrew  University,  the  estimated  Jewish  community  of  Mexico 
numbered  40,000.  Most  of  Mexico's  Jews  lived  in  the  capital  and  its  suburbs  in  the 
state  of  Mexico,  while  the  rest  (about  2,500)  resided  in  the  cities  of  Guadalajara, 
Monterrey,  and  Tijuana. 

MEXICO      /      219 

Community  Relations 

Although  Mexican  society  as  a  whole  was  beset  by  crisis  and  uncertainty  in  the 
period  under  review,  Mexican  Jewry,  somewhat  paradoxically,  actually  felt  itself 
strengthened.  Its  legitimacy  within  the  national  context  gained  in  validity,  and  its 
self-image  as  an  integral  and  active  part  of  civil  society  was  enhanced.  In  a  meeting 
with  delegates  to  the  Conference  of  Latin  American  Jewish  Communities  in  Novem- 
ber 1994,  outgoing  president  Salinas  asserted  that  "the  Jewish  community  of  Mexico 
is  an  integral  part  of  our  national  family.  We  share  a  deep  respect  for  differences. 
Jewish  presence  contributes  to  diversity  which  enriches  our  homeland,  enabling  all 
of  us  to  push  jointly  toward  national  goals." 

Two  important  developments  opened  the  way  for  the  more  visible  and  dynamic 
participation  of  Mexican  Jewry  in  the  country's  public  life.  One  was  the  growing 
acceptance  of  pluralism  as  a  social  ideal  for  modern  Mexico.  Although  the  legal 
status  of  Jews  in  Mexico  had  been — since  the  first  waves  of  immigration  at  the 
beginning  of  the  century — beyond  question,  their  status  as  a  legitimate,  integral  part 
of  Mexican  society  had  never  been  entirely  settled.  Now,  however,  on  both  a 
collective  and  an  individual  basis,  Jews  faced  unique  opportunities.  There  was  a 
clear  acknowledgment  of  the  important  role  that  the  Jewish  minority  could  play  in 
contributing  to  a  tolerant  environment.  At  the  same  time,  young  Jewish  technocrats 
had  become  increasingly  active  in  public  administration  up  to  the  ministerial  level. 
(See  "Personalia,"  below.) 

A  second  development  was  the  opening  of  the  poHtical  structure  to  greater 
participation  by  nongovernmental  entities,  as  political  parties  and  some  institutions 
were  discredited.  This  allowed  many  previously  marginal  segments  of  society,  like 
the  Jews,  to  have  input  in  the  decision-making  process,  to  become  actors  rather  than 
observers.  This  change  had  an  impact  on  the  agenda  of  the  Jewish  community  of 
Mexico,  which  now  saw  itself  as  capable  of  influencing  issues  pertaining  to  its 
well-being  and  survival.  As  Mexican  Jewry's  feeling  of  belonging  was  strengthened, 
it  was  able  to  take  a  more  visible  and  assertive  stance.  This  was  seen  in  the  unprece- 
dented meetings  that  Jewish  leaders  held  during  the  first  half  of  1 994  with  most  of 
the  candidates  for  the  presidency,  presenting  them  with  a  specific  agenda  of  concerns 
that  included  both  national  and  Jewish  issues.  Among  the  latter  were  the  presence 
of  anti-Semitic  groups  in  Mexico  and  the  pressing  need  for  antiracist  legislation. 

The  significance  of  these  meetings  was  reflected  at  a  later  stage  with  the  publica- 
tion in  July  1994,  in  Mexico's  leading  newspapers,  of  an  open  letter  condemning 
anti-Jewish  terror  and  anti-Semitism  in  Buenos  Aires,  Panama,  and  London.  Under- 
taken at  the  initiative  of  Tribuna  Israelita,  the  letter  was  signed  by  more  than  1 50 
political,  intellectual,  and  social  leaders,  including  the  nine  candidates  for  the  presi- 
dency. Because  of  this  broad  sponsorship — up  to  that  point  in  the  campaign,  this 
was  the  only  document  signed  jointly  by  the  nine  candidates — the  letter  effectively 
declared  a  national  consensus  against  anti-Semitism. 

The  changing  profile  of  Mexican  Jewry  was  underscored  in  other  encounters 

220      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH     YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

between  Jewish  leaders  and  government  officials  and  influential  figures.  At  the 
beginning  of  1995,  President  Ernesto  Zedillo  requested  a  meeting  with  Jewish 
leaders  to  exchange  views  on  the  country's  present  and  future  direction  and  to 
encourage  their  support  for  the  national  effort  to  overcome  the  crisis.  Mexico  City's 
attorney  general,  Jose  Antonio  Gonzalez  Fernandez,  was  invited  to  a  luncheon  at 
the  headquarters  of  the  Ashkenazi  community  in  February  1995  to  discuss  govern- 
ment measures  to  halt  and  deter  the  crime  wave  that  had  become  a  major  cause  of 
social  instability.  In  March  1995,  Oscar  Espinoza  Villareal,  Mexico  City's  mayor, 
urged  Jewish  representatives  to  support  development  programs  for  this  urban  center 
of  20  miUion  inhabitants,  with  its  dramatic  contrasts  between  haves  and  have-nots. 

As  part  of  the  growing  activism  of  nongovernmental  organizations,  especially 
those  pushing  for  democratic  reform,  the  Jewish  community  participated  in  forums 
with  groups  and  sectors  that  shared  similar  concerns.  The  wide  range  of  Jewish 
women's  organizations  devoted  to  social,  cultural,  and  philanthropic  work  played 
a  dynamic  role  in  national  as  well  as  community  projects.  The  Mexican  Council  of 
Jewish  Women  sent  food  and  clothing  to  the  displaced  Indian  population  of  Chiapas 
as  well  as  to  that  of  the  state  of  Chihuahua,  hard-hit  by  drought.  Other  women's 
organizations,  like  the  Jewish  Mexican  Volunteers,  Wizo,  and  Na'amat  increased 
their  work  in  the  spheres  of  education  and  health. 

At  the  beginning  of  1995,  the  Jewish  community  launched  a  series  of  meetings 
with  opinion  shapers,  including  religious  figures,  to  discuss  issues  that  affect  the 
whole  nation  but  that  have  a  special  bearing  on  minority  groups.  During  the  first 
meeting  in  February,  Dr.  Nathan  Lerner,  renowned  international  jurist  and  author- 
ity on  human  rights,  exchanged  views  on  the  status  of  minorities  with  journalists, 
social  scientists,  and  representatives  of  Baptist  and  Jesuit  groups.  One  of  the  topics 
discussed  was  the  harassment  of  Jesuits  for  espousing  liberation  theology  as  well  as 
for  their  supposed  hnks  to  Bishop  Samuel  Ruiz,  spiritual  leader  of  the  Chiapas 
Indians,  who  was  accused  of  fostering  violence  in  that  state. 


During  1993  the  "Jewish  religion  of  Mexico,"  together  with  up  to  2,000  local 
"reUgious  associations,"  was  officially  recognized  by  the  Mexican  government  and 
granted  legal  status.  The  constitutional  amendment  making  this  possible  was  an 
effort  to  ease  the  hostihty  to  reUgion  embodied  in  the  liberal  constitution  of  1917, 
which  made  Mexico — officially,  at  least — a  secular  state.  Under  the  new  law, 
members  of  the  clergy  could  participate  as  voters  and  candidates  in  the  electoral 
process  and  their  associations  could  own  and  transfer  property.  Although  public 
education  in  Mexico  was  legally  "secular,"  Catholic  schools  had  always  been  al- 
lowed to  include  religious  instruction;  most  Jewish  schools  had  courses  in  Judaic 
studies  and  tradition  and  sometimes  even  reUgion. 

MEXICO      /      221 

Jewish-Christian  Relations 

Even  though  there  had  been  contacts  between  the  Catholic  Church  and  Protes- 
tant groups  and  the  Jewish  community  since  the  1960s,  conducted  primarily  by 
B'nai  B'rith,  Mexican  Jewry  was  trying  to  find  different  approaches  to  interfaith 
dialogue,  based  more  on  mutual  national  concerns  than  on  theological  issues. 

Despite  three  decades  of  efforts  to  promote  interfaith  dialogue  in  the  country,  the 
Mexican  Catholic  Church  had  never  condemned  anti-Semitism  openly  and  in  gen- 
eral refrained  from  political  pronouncements  relating  to  the  Jewish  community. 
Some  Catholic  leaders  did,  however,  agree  to  sign  the  open  letter  condemning 
anti-Semitism  and  terrorism  that  was  published  in  leading  newspapers  after  the 
bombing  in  Buenos  Aires. 

In  February  1994,  Tribuna  Israelita  sponsored  the  participation  of  Dr.  Manuel 
Olimon  Nolasco,  head  of  the  history  department  of  the  Pontifical  University,  in  a 
conference  in  Jerusalem  on  "Religious  Leadership  in  a  Secular  Society."  Olimon 
was  accompanied  by  Rabbi  Marcelo  Rittner  of  Mexico's  Bet-El  Community.  The 
two  joined  more  than  a  thousand  Jewish,  Christian,  and  Muslim  leaders  from  all 
over  the  world  to  deliberate  on  such  topics  as  genetic  engineering,  religious  educa- 
tion in  pluralistic  societies,  and  ethnicity,  multiculturalism,  and  integration. 

In  June  1994,  a  conference  on  "The  Role  of  the  Churches  in  Today's  Mexico" 
was  organized  by  the  Interior  Ministry  and  the  Center  for  the  Study  of  Religions. 
It  was  the  first  effort  to  bring  together  representatives  of  the  country's  different 
religions  in  order  to  create  a  common  agenda  based  on  tolerance  and  the  acknowl- 
edgment of  pluralism.  Mauricio  Lulka,  president  of  Tribuna  Israelita,  participated, 
along  with  more  than  50  religious  leaders. 

Communal  Affairs 

The  Jewish  Central  Committee  (Comite  Central  Israelita  de  Mexico),  the  political 
arm  and  representative  body  of  Mexican  Jewry,  continued  to  foster  the  active 
participation  of  Jews  in  national  affairs  and  to  promote  cordial  and  open  relations 
with  the  government.  Seminars  and  lectures  were  organized  to  increase  awareness 
of  the  changes  taking  place  in  the  Mexican  political  system  and  to  examine  the  role 
that  the  community  could  play  in  the  new  order. 

As  the  socioeconomic  status  of  Mexican  Jews  became  increasingly  strained  by  the 
recession,  the  Central  Committee  undertook  the  creation  of  a  credit  union  with  rates 
indexed  to  each  debtor's  financial  situation.  Also,  through  its  International  Rela- 
tions Commission,  it  explored  the  possibility  of  working  with  American  Jewry  on 
joint  projects  and  participated  in  conferences  organized  by  the  American  Jewish 
Committee  and  the  Council  of  Jewish  Federations. 

222      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

Following  the  bombing  of  the  Jewish  community  building  in  Buenos  Aires  in  July 
1994,  all  Latin  American  Jewish  communities  experienced  a  sense  of  increased 
vulnerability  and  awareness  of  the  ever-present  threat  to  their  physical  and  emo- 
tional well-being.  In  this  atmosphere,  the  establishment  of  effective  channels  of 
communication  between  communities  for  the  exchange  of  experiences,  information, 
and  strategies  assumed  greater  importance  than  ever.  An  expression  of  this  need  was 
the  Conference  of  Latin  American  Jewish  Communities  that  took  place  in  Mexico 
City,  November  7-9,  1994,  under  the  auspices  of  the  regional  branch  of  the  World 
Jewish  Congress  and  hosted  by  Mexican  Jewry.  Over  250  leaders  of  Jewish  commu- 
nities in  ten  countries  exchanged  views  on  the  role  of  Latin  American  Jewry  in  the 
future  development  of  the  continent  and  in  the  strengthening  of  liberal  principles. 
The  gathering  was  also  a  forum  for  denouncing  anti-Semitism  and  terrorism. 

Enrique  Iglesias,  president  of  the  Interamerican  Development  Bank,  and  the 
renowned  Mexican  writer  Hector  Aguilar  Camin  took  part  in  a  session  devoted  to 
analyzing  the  future  of  the  continent.  Workshops  focused  on  the  multiple  faces  of 
anti-Semitism,  the  presence  and  participation  of  the  Jewish  communities  within  the 
general  society,  and  the  Jewish  quality  of  life  in  the  region.  The  final  document 
produced  by  the  meeting  reinforced  the  commitment  to  Jewish  continuity,  to 
strengthening  the  links  between  Israel  and  the  Diaspora,  and  to  building  alliances 
in  the  fight  against  intolerance,  racism,  and  anti-Semitism. 

As  it  had  done  for  almost  two  decades,  Mexican  Jewry  continued  to  support  the 
Jewish  community  of  Cuba  in  its  efforts  to  maintain  Jewish  identity  and  life  on  the 
island.  In  addition  to  providing  ritual  objects  and  educational  materials,  Mexican 
Jewish  community  leaders  made  frequent  visits,  and  Mexican  university  students 
established  ties  with  Cuban  youth  who  shared  common  interests,  such  as  Israeli  folk 
dance.  Mexican  rabbis  were  available  to  perform  essential  life-cycle  rituals,  and,  as 
in  previous  years,  the  community  shipped  matzah  and  pareve  foods  to  Cuba  for 
Passover,  in  quantities  greater  than  required  for  the  festival,  because  of  the  chronic 
Cuban  food  shortage. 


Mexico's  ambassador  to  Israel,  Rafael  Rodriguez  Barrera,  met  with  the  Jewish 
Central  Committee  of  Mexico  in  October  1994  to  provide  an  overview  of  the  present 
state  of  relations  between  both  countries  and  to  urge  them  to  share  in  his  efforts  to 
promote  Mexican  culture  in  Israel. 

In  the  area  of  science  and  technology,  the  Mexican  Association  of  Friends  of  the 
Weizmann  Institute  provided  scholarships  and  awards  on  a  yearly  basis  to  outstand- 
ing Mexican  high-school  students  to  spend  time  in  Rehovot  doing  advanced  work 
in  their  particular  fields  of  interest.  The  organization  also  coordinated  lectures 

MEXICO    /    223 

featuring  Mexican  and  Israeli  scientists  speaking  on  subjects  of  current  interest.  The 
Haifa  Technion,  for  its  part,  had  developed  projects  in  rural  areas  for  utilizing 
Mexico's  natural  resources  to  generate  energy. 

During  the  period  under  review,  ORT  followed  up  on  its  efforts  to  train  4,000 
low-income  Mexicans  for  technical  jobs  and  to  work  with  government  and  nongov- 
ernmental agencies  to  implement  the  latest  technological  advancements.  It  also 
continued  to  aid  local  Jewish  schools  that  have  ORT  workshops  where  students  are 
taught  diverse  trades  and  are  exposed  to  the  most  advanced  computer  technology. 

As  in  previous  years,  more  than  200  high-school  juniors  and  seniors  from  Jewish 
schools,  as  well  as  university  students,  joined  thousands  of  Jewish  young  people 
from  all  over  the  world  in  the  "March  of  the  Living"  organized  by  the  Jewish 
Agency-Keren  Hayesod  in  April  1994.  The  participants  traveled  to  Poland  to  visit 
centers  of  Jewish  life  before  the  Holocaust  and  also  Treblinka,  Majdanek,  and 
Auschwitz.  From  Poland  the  group  traveled  to  Israel  to  join  in  that  country's 
Independence  Day  celebrations. 


Twenty  synagogues  provide  religious  services  to  Mexican  Jewry,  all  but  two  of 
them — which  belong  to  the  Conservative  movement — Orthodox.  The  synagogues 
are  also  organized  along  ethnic  lines — as  is  the  Central  Committee — that  is,  divi- 
sion into  "sectors"  {kehillot,  in  Hebrew)  based  on  the  place  of  origin  of  the  members' 
forebears.  There  are  also  more  than  a  dozen  yeshivas  and  kolelim  associated  with 
various  kehillot.  Liturgical  or  ideological  disputes  are  relatively  rare,  based  on  a 
consensus  that  community  solidarity  is  primary.  Each  "sector"  has  its  own  rabbi 
or  rabbis,  day  school,  kashrut  supervisor,  rabbinical  court,  publications,  and  ceme- 


One  of  the  outstanding  assets  of  the  Mexican  community  is  its  network  of  schools. 
Eight  day  schools,  attended  by  up  to  75  percent  of  Mexican  Jewish  children, 
combine  the  official  state  school  curriculum  with  Judaic  studies.  The  oldest  of  these 
schools,  the  Colegio  Israelita  de  Mexico,  also  known  as  the  Yiddishe  Shul,  and  part 
of  the  Ashkenazic  sector,  turned  70  in  1 994.  Its  founders  were  Jewish  immigrants 
who  sought  to  maintain  Jewish  continuity  while  integrating  into  the  larger  society. 
It  served  as  a  model  for  other  Jewish  educational  options  seeking  to  instill  in  young 
people  an  awareness  of  their  complementary  and  complex  identities. 

Instruction  in  the  schools  belonging  to  the  Ashkenazic  sector  originally  reflected 
the  ideologies  of  their  founders,  such  as  Bundism  and  secular  or  religious  Zionism; 
some  remnant  of  this  remains  in  the  teaching  of  Yiddish  or  the  inclusion  of  religion 
in  the  curriculum.  The  schools  belonging  to  the  "Arab"  (Syrian)  and  Sephardic 

224      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

sectors  emphasize  origins  over  ideology.  Since  private  schools  receive  no  govern- 
ment funding,  Jewish  schools  are  financed  by  their  sponsoring  communities  or  by 
student  fees  and  philanthropists. 

A  program  of  Judaic  studies  was  established  at  the  Iberoamericana  University  in 
Mexico  City  in  1985,  to  satisfy  a  growing  interest  in  Judaism  in  Mexican  society 
at  large  and  to  make  up  for  the  absence  of  any  courses  on  the  subject  on  the  campus. 
With  the  financial  and  academic  support  of  Israeli  universities,  the  program  offers 
a  degree  in  Judaic  studies,  from  which  three  classes  of  students  have  now  graduated. 


Since  the  creation  80  years  ago  of  Alianza  Monte  Sinai  (Mount  Sinai  Alliance), 
the  first  communal  Jewish  institution  in  Mexico,  three  generations  of  Mexican-bom 
Jews  have  built  a  thriving  community,  with  a  myriad  of  institutions  relating  to 
almost  every  aspect  of  modern  Jewish  life.  This  organizational  framework  has  given 
rise  to  a  native  culture  reflecting  the  synthesis  between  the  Mexican  and  Jewish 
identities  and  has  stimulated  efl'orts,  using  a  variety  of  approaches,  aimed  at  examin- 
ing what  it  means  to  be  a  Mexican  Jew.  During  the  last  decade  in  particular,  serious 
research  on  the  history  of  Mexican  Jewry  has  intensified,  eliciting  much  interest  on 
the  part  of  Jews  and  non-Jews  alike. 

In  1992  the  Jewish  Central  Committee  of  Mexico  and  Tribuna  Israelita,  in  con- 
junction with  the  National  Autonomous  University  of  Mexico,  published  Imageries 
de  un  Encuentro:  La  Presencia  Judia  en  Mexico  durante  la  Primera  Mitad  del  Sigh 
XX  (Images  of  an  Encounter:  The  Jewish  Presence  in  Mexico  During  the  First  Half 
of  the  20th  Century).  The  research  team,  under  the  direction  of  Judit  Bokser 
Liwerant,  produced  a  graphic  documentary  history  combining  sociohistorical  analy- 
sis in  an  artistic  format.  In  1993  the  book  received  an  award  from  the  prestigious 
Mexican  Chamber  of  Publishers. 

In  1994  the  Ashkenazic  community  published  a  work  on  its  history  and  develop- 
ment: Generaciones  Judias  en  Mexico:  La  Kehila  Ashkenazi  (1922-1992)  (Jewish 
Generations  in  Mexico:  The  Ashkenazi  Kehila  [1922-1992]),  coordinated  by  Alicia 
Gojman  de  Backal.  Similar  studies  were  undertaken  by  the  Maguen  David  (Aleppo), 
the  Monte  Sinai  (Damascus),  and  the  Sephardic  (Balkans)  sectors,  and  by  the 
Colegio  Israelita  de  Mexico  (Yiddishe  Shul  in  Meksike). 

Jewish  life  in  Mexico  was  also  recorded  on  film  and  video.  Keren  Hayesod 
videotaped  highlights  of  the  "March  of  the  Living"  experience  of  Mexican  Jewish 
youth.  A  documentary  on  the  origins  and  evolution  of  anti-Semitism  in  Mexico  was 
produced  by  Tribuna  Israelita  in  1 994.  The  same  year,  Daniel  Goldberg's  documen- 
tary Un  Beso  a  esta  Tierra  (A  Kiss  to  This  Land)  was  aired.  Part  testimony,  part 
dramatization,  the  film  chronicles  the  travails  and  first  impressions  of  Jewish  immi- 
grants arriving  in  Mexico  during  the  first  decades  of  this  century. 

Over  time,  a  number  of  cultural  programs  had  become  fixed  traditions  in  the 
community.  The  annual  Tuvie  Maizel  Music  Festival  was  named  for  its  founder. 

MEXICO    /    225 

Yiddish  writer  and  professor  Tuvie  Maizel,  the  creator  of  the  local  Holocaust 
Museum,  housed  in  the  building  of  the  Ashkenazic  community  and  a  landmark  for 
those  interested  in  the  subject. 

The  Fernando  Jeno  literary  awards  were  presented  in  1994  to  Eli  Schechtman 
(U.S.A.),  Boris  Blank  (Argentina),  and  Margalith  Matitiahu  (Israel).  For  18  years 
Jewish  writers  from  all  over  the  world  have  submitted  works  to  this  competition  for 
appraisal  in  three  categories — Yiddish,  Hebrew,  and  Spanish — the  winner  in  each 
receiving  $2,000  (U.S.)  dollars. 

More  than  1,500  young  people  representing  Jewish  schools,  youth  movements, 
and  community  institutions  competed  in  the  20th  and  21st  annual  Aviv  Dance 
Festivals  in  April  1994  and  1995.  A  major  community  event  considered  the  best  of 
its  kind  in  the  international  Jewish  world,  the  festival  is  organized  by  the  Jewish 
Sport  Center — a  social,  cultural,  and  athletic  institution  whose  membership  in- 
cludes up  to  90  percent  of  Mexican  Jewry — and  is  attended  by  some  4,500  people. 
Each  festival  featured  dozens  of  groups  performing  dances  based  on  Jewish  religious 
and  historical  themes,  including  semiprofessional  troupes  from  Canada,  the  United 
States,  Israel,  Latin  America,  and  Mexico  itself 

Among  the  prominent  personalities  who  visited  from  abroad  in  1994  and  early 
1995  were  renowned  sexologist  Dr.  Ruth  Westheimer,  who  spoke  at  the  Bet-El 
Community  (Conservative)  on  the  subject  of  "Sexuality  in  Judaism."  Author  Chaim 
Potok  lectured  on  "How  I  Came  to  Write  The  Chosen,"  also  at  Bet-El  Community. 
In  addition,  literally  dozens  of  lectures,  concerts,  art  exhibits,  and  workshops  were 
held  at  diverse  institutional  facilities,  reflecting  the  cultural  interests  of  the  different 
segments  of  Mexican  Jewry. 


A  variety  of  periodicals — magazines,  newspapers,  and  newsletters — reflected  the 
different  political,  cultural,  and  ideological  trends  in  the  community.  Among  these 
v/ere  Maguen  David,  La  Voz  de  la  Kehila,  Emet,  Presencia  Judia,  WIZO,  Desa/io, 
Periodico  CDI,  and  Desde  Bet-El.  There  were  also  two  independent  publications 
catering  to  the  general  community,  Kesher  and  Foro. 

Recent  years  saw  a  spate  of  publications  by  well-known  first-  and  second-genera- 
tion Jewish  writers  about  the  experience  of  growing  up  as  Jews  in  Mexico.  Among 
these  were  Rosa  Nissan's  short  novel  Novia  que  te  Vea  (Ladino  expression,  "I  hope 
to  see  you  as  a  bride"),  which  was  turned  into  a  movie  by  director  Guita  Schifter; 
Jose  Woldenberg's  Las  Ausencias  Presentes  (The  Present  Absences);  Sabina  Ber- 
man's  La  Bobe  (Grandmother,  in  Yiddish);  Gloria  Gervitz's  Kadish ;  and  various 
works  of  fiction  and  poetry  by  Esther  Seligson. 

226      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 


At  the  beginning  of  1995,  Alfredo  Achar  assumed  the  position  of  president  of  the 
Jewish  Central  Committee  of  Mexico,  while  Jorge  Salamonovitz  became  president 
of  Tribuna  Israelita.  They  replaced  Simon  Nissan  and  Mauricio  Lulka,  respectively, 
who  headed  these  institutions  during  the  previous  four  years. 

Several  Mexican  Jews  were  named  to  positions  in  President  Ernesto  Zedillo's 
administration:  Arturo  Warman,  secretary  of  agrarian  reform;  Santiago  Levy,  un- 
dersecretary for  expenditures;  Jaime  Zabludovsky,  undersecretary  for  international 
commercial  negotiations;  Aaron  Dichter,  undersecretary  for  communications; 
Jacques  Rogozinsky,  director  of  Fonatur,  the  government  office  for  the  promotion 
of  tourism.  Esther  Koleteniuk  was  elected  a  representative  on  Mexico  City's  Coun- 

Jose  Woldenberg  was  named  one  of  six  "citizen  advisers"  to  the  Federal  Electoral 
Institute,  charged  with  overseeing  the  integrity  of  the  1994  federal  elections  and 
implementing  basic  electoral  reform  in  Mexico. 



National  Affairs 

THE  PERIOD  1994  AND  THE  FIRST  half  of  1995  saw  a  continuation  of  relatively  stable 
democratic  government  under  President  Carlos  Menem.  He  was  reelected  with  a 
convincing  majority  in  May  1995,  his  Justicialist  Party  (PJ)  also  increasing  its 
representation  in  both  houses  of  Congress.  While  such  triumphs  were  accomplished 
on  the  strength  of  the  degree  of  economic  stability  achieved  since  1991  (notwith- 
standing the  economy's  poorer  performance  in  1995  and/or  the  social  costs  of  the 
economic  adjustment  measures),  they  also  occurred  against  a  backdrop  of  rising 
voter  apathy. 


The  changes  in  Argentina's  political  situation,  along  with  the  country's  interna- 
tional realignment  in  recent  years,  have  had  important  beneficial  consequences  for 
Jews.  Additionally,  Menem's  almost  complete  abandonment  of  Peronist  nationalist 
baggage  has  forced  those  rank-and-filers  who  lacked  an  affinity  for  Jews  (or  Jewish 
matters)  to  conceal  and/or  revise  their  views,  or  risk  marginalization. 

Economic  hardships  notwithstanding,  certified  manifestations  of  Judeophobia 
have  fallen  since  1983  (though  certainly  not  disappeared),  especially  if  one  interprets 
— as  many  have  done — the  March  1992  bombing  of  the  IsraeU  embassy  and  that 
of  the  Buenos  Aires  Jewish  community  building  in  July  1994  as  primarily  anti- 
Israel,  rather  than  anti-Jewish,  incidents.  Nevertheless,  for  the  time  being,  such  a 
fall  is  far  from  irreversible.  Long-lasting  changes  in  political  cultures  are  not  con- 
solidated overnight,  and  the  19th-century  liberal  architects  of  Argentina's  immigra- 
tion policy  tended  to  equate  newcomers'  integration  with  a  measure  of  uniformity 
on  various  levels,  including  the  religious  one.  Moreover,  the  claimed  drop  in  anti- 
Jewishness  is  accompanied  by  relatively  high  levels  of  bigotry  vis-a-vis  migrants 
from  neighboring  countries,  Koreans,  and  Middle  Easterners. 

This  said,  a  1992  public-opinion  survey  commissioned  by  the  American  Jewish 
Committee  (AJC)  and  Argentine  Jewry's  political  roof  organization,  the  DAIA 
(Delegation  of  Israelite  Associations  in  Argentina),  and  conducted  several  months 
after  the  Israeli  embassy  attack,  revealed  significant  pluralist  attitudes  among  inter- 
viewees. For  instance,  69  percent  of  respondents  considered  it  better  that  Argen- 
tina's inhabitants  had  diverse  origins,  customs,  and  religions,  while  46  percent 
declared  that  Jews  had  made  a  positive  contribution;  7  percent  supported  the  notion 
that  the  country  would  be  better  off  without  Jews.  While  corroboration  of  such 


228      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

results  would  require  successive  comparable  polls,  the  outcome  of  this  one  can  be 
reasonably  attributed  to  changes  going  back  to  1983  and  the  end  of  military  rule. 

Menem's  first  term  in  office  (1989-1995)  also  brought  about  constitutional  re- 
form that  had  important  political  repercussions  for  Jews.  As  important  as  was  the 
antidiscrimination  legislation  initiated  by  President  Raul  Alfonsin  and  passed  by 
Congress  in  1988,  with  bipartisan  support,  the  constitutional  reform  of  Menem's 
presidency  may  well  be  a  longer-term  legacy  for  Jews  and  other  non-Catholics.  Best 
known  for  allowing  incumbent  presidents  to  seek  a  second  term  in  office  and  for 
reducing  the  presidential  term  from  six  to  four  years,  the  reform  also  enfranchised 
non-Catholic  aspirants  to  leadership  of  the  government.  The  original  magna  carta 
prescribed  that  the  chief  executive  and  his  deputy  must  be  Catholic.  (Gen.  Roberto 
Levingston,  one  of  Argentina's  de  facto  rulers  in  the  early  1970s,  was  the  grandchild 
of  a  Prussian  Jewish  immigrant,  but  a  Catholic.)  Such  a  requirement  has  now  been 
dropped,  although  government  support  for  the  Catholic  Church  remains  in  place 
in  the  new  constitution. 

The  removal  of  a  formal  hurdle  for  non-Catholic  politicians  is  relevant  for  the 
relatively  large  number  of  Jewish  participants  in  elected  and  appointed  positions 
since  1983  (many  of  whom  openly  declare  their  Jewishness,  unlike  some  of  their 
predecessors  during  this  century's  earlier  Radical  (UCR)  and  Peronist  govern- 
ments). However,  the  opening  of  the  chief  executive's  office  to  non-Catholics  is  not 
likely  to  find  one  of  them  voted  into  the  presidential  palace  any  time  soon.  In  the 
aforementioned  1992  AJC/DAIA-sponsored  opinion  survey,  45  percent  of  respon- 
dents indicated  they  would  not  support  a  Muslim  presidential  candidate,  while  41 
and  39  percent,  respectively,  held  similar  views  in  respect  of  a  Jew  and  a  Protestant. 
Using  this  measuring  stick,  it  is  clear  that  a  sizable  proportion  of  the  Argentine 
public  is  not  yet  ready  for  a  head  of  state  who  is  formally  non-Catholic. 

Even  though  Menem's  Syrian-Muslim  ancestry  did  not  bar  his  way  to  the  top, 
his  baptism  in  1963  did  not  prevent  a  mainstream  opposition  legislator  from  refer- 
ring to  him  as  "a  Muslim  deity,"  nor  a  key  public-opinion  molder  and  a  former 
political  friend  from  portraying  him,  among  other  derisive  ethnic  labels,  as  a  "wall" 
and  a  "caliph."  Because  of  the  local  media's  historical  equation  of  Arab  with  Islamic 
(despite  the  fact  that  most  Middle  Eastern  immigrants  in  Latin  America  were 
Christian),  and  possibly  influenced  by  other  considerations  as  well,  it  is  not  surpris- 
ing that  Argentina's  Federation  of  Arab  Entities  (FEARAB)  should  have  petitioned 
the  elected  reformers  to  retain  the  Catholic  imperative  for  presidential  hopefuls  in 
July  1994. 

Israel  and  the  Middle  East 

With  few  modifications  until  the  1990s,  Argentina's  governments  traditionally 
adhered  to  a  foreign  policy  that  sought  to  avoid  the  appearance  of  being  aligned  with 
one  or  another  party  to  remote  conflicts,  including  the  Arab-Israeli  one.  Initiated 
by  Juan  Peron  in  the  1940s,  such  a  pragmatic  approach  to  relations  with  Israel  and 

ARGENTINA      /      229 

the  Arab  world  was  generally  endorsed  by  his  civilian  and  military  successors,  UCR 
politicians,  and  members  of  the  mass  movement  Peron  had  created  as  well  as 
nationalist  and  liberal  army  officers.  During  the  second  half  of  the  1970s  and  early 
1980s,  this  approach  resulted  in  important  Argentine  acquisitions  of  military  hard- 
ware from  Israel.  This  was  a  contentious  issue  for  the  Argentine  and  Israeli  relatives 
of  the  several  hundred  Jewish  desaparecidos ,  those  who  disappeared  during  the 
years  when  such  deals  were  concluded.  (An  estimated  450  Jews  were  reportedly 
secretly  helped  by  Israeli  envoys  to  leave  the  country  in  the  same  period.)  The 
Argentine  approach  also  resulted  in  intense  courtship  of  the  Arab  states  in  interna- 
tional forums.  Arab  support  was  sought  at  first  to  quash  resolutions  condemning 
the  human-rights  record  of  the  then  military  regime  (1976-83),  with  its  thousands 
of  disappeared,  and  later  for  the  Argentine  case  in  the  Malvinas  (Falklands)  conflict 
with  Britain. 

Only  after  Menem's  1989  election  triumph  did  efforts  to  align  the  country  firmly 
with  the  United  States — thereby  overcoming  the  distrust  which  successive  Argen- 
tine administrations  had  elicited  in  Washington  and  among  U.S.  public-opinion 
molders — have  important  repercussions  for  Argentine  foreign  policy  in  the  Middle 
East.  During  Menem's  first  term  Argentina  left  the  nonaligned  movement,  aban- 
doned the  German-brokered  association  with  Egypt  (and  indirectly  with  Iraq)  in  the 
Condor  missile  project,  was  the  sole  Latin  American  state  to  participate  in  U.S.-led 
operations  in  the  Persian  Gulf,  endorsed  the  Nuclear  Non-Proliferation  Treaty,  and 
scrapped  a  nuclear  servicing  contract  with  Iran. 

Government  awareness  of  Saudi-Iranian  competition  for  the  hearts  and  minds  of 
Argentina's  Muslims — estimated  at  between  8,000  and  more  than  650,000,  depend- 
ing on  whether  one  considers  projections  based  on  census  data,  ethnic  self-estimates, 
or  other  sources — and  the  fact  that  the  sole  Buenos  Aires  mosque  was  built  in  the 
1980s  with  Iran's  sponsorship,  apparently  impelled  the  government  to  send  a  bill 
to  Congress  granting  Saudi  Arabia  a  Buenos  Aires  site  for  the  erection  of  a  mosque 
and  community  center.  The  initiative  followed  a  visit  by  Menem  to  the  Wahabite 
kingdom  in  May  1992.  However,  once  approved  by  the  upper  house  in  the  first  half 
of  1994,  it  unleashed  an  adverse  campaign  by  the  right-wing  Tradicion,  Familia  y 
Propiedad  (TFP)  group,  which  considered  the  notion  of  such  a  Muslim  religious  and 
educational  facility  "an  insult  to  the  Catholic  conscience  of  the  Argentine  Nation." 
Although  the  TFP  campaign  was  launched  before  the  bombing  of  the  Jewish  com- 
munity building  and  speculation  about  Iranian  involvement,  it  sought  to  blur  the 
distinction  between  Iran  and  Saudi  Arabia:  it  suggested  that  the  Quranic  school  that 
would  be  part  of  the  project  was  likely  to  be  staffed  by  Iranians,  thereby  turning  this 
center  "of  anti-Christian  fanaticism"  into  "a  terrorism  school." 

Argentina's  earlier  concern  for  equidistance  in  the  Arab-Israeli  conflict  gave  way 
to  a  definite  shift  in  Israel's  favor,  whether  at  the  UN  or  in  other  multilateral 
organizations.  A  further  symbol  of  the  country's  clear  alignment  with  the  United 
States,  this  tilt  led  to  Argentina's  intercession,  for  example,  with  Damascus  on 
behalf  of  Syrian  Jewry,  and  with  Brasilia  in  support  of  the  repeal  of  the  UN 

230      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

resolution  equating  Zionism  with  racism  (a  resolution,  inter  alia,  which  Argentina, 
unlike  Brazil,  Cuba,  Grenada,  Guyana,  and  Mexico,  had  failed  to  support  in  1975 
during  Peron's  third  term  in  office).  Moreover,  the  man  who  predicted  Israel's 
disappearance  in  a  1963  Arab  League  periodical,  when  Nasserism  had  caught  the 
imagination  of  the  politically  aware  among  Argentine  Arabs,  and  who  also  por- 
trayed the  opponents  of  Arab  unity  as  allies  of  imperialism  and  accomplices  of 
Zionism,  in  1991  became  the  first  Argentine  head  of  state  ever  to  visit  Israel. 
Consistent  with  his  political  mutation.  President  Menem  eventually  also  toured  the 
conservative  Arab  states,  but  the  symbolism  of  Tel  Aviv  as  his  first  Middle  East 
destination  was  not  lost  on  the  Syrians — undoubtedly  a  possible  reason  for  their 
refusal  to  welcome  a  Syrian-descended  Argentine  head  of  state  until  late  in  1994, 

The  Bombings 

Despite  Argentina's  attempts  to  preserve  a  semblance  of  evenhandedness — as 
highlighted,  for  example,  by  Menem's  offer  of  Buenos  Aires  as  an  alternative  venue 
for  the  Madrid  Peace  Conference  and  his  expensive  touring  of  the  Middle  East- 
one  cannot  dismiss  the  possibility  that  the  changes  in  Israel's  favor  may  have  had 
something  to  do  with  the  devastating  car  bomb  that  demolished  the  Israeli  embassy 
in  March  1992  and  the  more  deadly  device  that  reduced  to  rubble  the  AMIA 
building  in  Buenos  Aires  on  July  18,  1994.  This  building  housed  the  headquarters 
of  AMIA,  the  Argentine  Israelite  Mutual  Association,  the  central  social  welfare  and 
cultural  body  of  Buenos  Aires  Jewry,  and  the  headquarters  of  DAIA,  the  Jewish 
political  umbrella  organization,  as  well  as  offices  of  other  organizations,  a  library, 
and  a  theater.  Whereas  Israeli  embassies  in  El  Salvador  and  Guatemala  had  been 
previously  targeted  by  local  opponents  of  Israeli  foreign  policy  in  Central  America, 
and  two  unaffiliated  Palestinians  attacked  the  embassy  in  Paraguay  in  1970,  none 
of  these  incidents  was  as  violent  as  the  bombings  of  the  diplomatic  representation 
and  Buenos  Aires  Jewish  community  building.  Indeed,  while  an  embassy  clerk  was 
killed  in  Asuncion,  the  toll  of  the  first  Buenos  Aires  blast  included  up  to  30  deaths 
and  250  injured,  with  up  to  86  killed  in  the  second  outrage  and  more  than  200 
injured.  Some  government  and  other  analysts  hastily — though  not  altogether  un- 
realistically — connected  such  terrorist  operations  with  the  displeasure  caused  in 
Iranian  circles,  as  well  as  among  Tehran-supported  Shiites  in  Lebanon,  by  the 
Middle  Eastern  ramifications  of  Argentina's  international  realignment.  This  is  con- 
sistent with  the  fact  that  several  Middle  Eastern  parties  had  recourse  to  powerful 
car  bombs,  and  more  specifically  with  a  claim  on  Lebanese  TV  that  an  otherwise 
unknown  Muslim  group,  Ansarallah,  was  responsible  for  one  of  the  attacks. 

In  practice,  though,  it  has  been  impossible  to  turn  into  convincing  and/or  convict- 
ing evidence  the  presumed  responsibility  of  Islamic  militants — who  may  have  sub- 
contracted parts  of,  if  not  the  whole  of,  these  operations  to  local  anti-Jewish  ele- 
ments, or  to  others.  Thus  far,  the  sole  detainee  is  the  man  who  delivered  the  van 
used  in  the  second  attack,  despite  investigating  magistrate  Juan  Galeano's  by  now 

ARGENTINA      /      231 

exclusive  devotion  to  the  case  and  his  SO-man  team.  In  turn,  the  inability  to  resolve 
both  cases  has  fueled  intense  speculation  about  the  bombers,  their  motives,  and  their 
connections  with  well-placed  Argentines,  past  and  present,  especially  as  Argentina's 
State  Intelligence  Agency  (SIDE),  as  well  as  the  federal  and  Buenos  Aires  province 
police  forces,  are  not  particularly  known  for  their  Judeophilia.  However,  the  patent 
lack  of  progress  suggests  that  Argentina's  investigative  failures  are  equivalent  to 
those  of  countries  far  more  experienced  than  Argentina  with  Middle  East-related 
terrorism,  which  have  quite  a  few  unsolved  cases  on  their  books.  Unwilling  to  accept 
this  reality,  a  number  of  people  have  tended  to  equate  the  obvious  and  imagined 
imperfections  of  the  probes  with  a  sheer  political  unwillingness  on  Argentina's  part 
to  identify  the  culprits,  even  suggesting  that  the  cases  are  hard  to  solve  given  the 
strength  of  Arab  influence  in  Argentina  today.  However,  the  sober  conclusion  of  the 
Antisemitism  World  Report  1995  (Institute  of  Jewish  Affairs  and  American  Jewish 
Committee)  in  respect  of  the  second  attack  may  well  be  relevant  for  both:  "In  the 
absence  of  solid  evidence  to  substantiate  any  hypothesis,  speculation  on  the  motives 
and  actual  perpetrators  of  this  outrage  has  been  rife,  with  some  claims  reflecting 
better  on  their  authors'  political  agendas  than  on  the  facts  on  the  ground." 

Clearly,  if  the  bombings  were  meant  to  provoke  a  shift  in  foreign  policy,  they 
failed.  Instead,  they  led  to  strained  relations  with  Iran  and  Lebanon  and  made  life 
more  uncomfortable  for  Argentina's  population  of  Syrian  and  Lebanese  parentage, 
self-estimated  at  around  2.5  million.  On  one  level,  an  accumulated  trade  surplus 
with  Iran  of  more  than  $10  billion  since  1984  helps  explain  the  government's 
obvious  reluctance  to  consider  downgrading  relations,  especially  without  more  solid 
evidence  of  Tehran's  involvement  than  that  stemming  from  a  dubious  Iranian 
informer.  On  another  level,  and  irrespective  of  creed,  Lebanese  and  other  Arab 
nationals,  as  well  as  non-Arab  Muslims,  have  found  it  harder  to  visit  relatives  or 
tour  Argentina  and  two  of  her  neighbors,  because  of  stricter  visa  requirements. 
Additionally,  Arab-descended  Argentines  have  witnessed  a  rise  in  anti-Arab  and 
anti-Muslim  expressions  in  the  country's  media. 

On  a  different  level,  both  bombs  gave  rise  to  a  spate  of  anonymous  telephone 
threats  against  Jewish  institutions,  with  fears  of  a  third  attack,  some  of  them  plainly 
feeding  on  reckless  press  sensation-mongering,  leading  to  the  installation  of  anti-car- 
bomb  devices  in  front  of  Jewish  public  facilities  and  other  security  measures,  a 
temporary  halt  of  interinstitutional  sporting  competitions  at  Jewish  venues,  and  a 
perceptible  increase  in  the  Jewish  sense  of  vulnerability.  Without  minimizing  such 
consequences  for  Jews,  one  should  also  not  lose  sight  of  the  public  expressions  of 
sympathy  for  the  Jewish  community,  highlighted,  for  instance,  by  multipartisan 
support  in  Congress  for  a  lower-house  statement  strongly  condemning  the  1992 
embassy  attack,  and  the  presence  of  Menem  and  members  of  his  cabinet,  former 
President  Alfonsin  and  opposition  legislators,  as  well  as  the  city's  archbishop. 
Cardinal  Antonio  Quarracino,  among  the  up  to  1 30,000  participants  in  a  march  to 
repudiate  this  blast.  The  AMIA  attack  reportedly  drew  not  less  than  150,000 
marchers  in  solidarity  with  the  victims,  some  of  the  same  public  figures  included. 

232      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

Among  the  latter  demonstration's  banners  were  some  proclaiming  "We  are  all 
Argentine  Jews,"  in  line  with  press  comments  that  the  embassy  and  AMIA  attackers 
had  violated  Argentine  sovereignty. 

A  novel  feature  in  both  cases  were  messages  repudiating  the  attacks  and/or 
supporting  the  victims  by  Argentine  Arab  institutions  and  local  personalities  of 
Arab  descent.  Among  the  factors  helping  to  account  for  such  pronouncements  one 
could  point  to  developments  in  the  Middle  East,  the  Menem  administration's  own 
role  in  seeking  to  translate  advances  toward  an  Arab-Israeli  peace  into  something 
tangible  locally,  and  concern  about  possible  backlash  attacks  on  Argentine  Arabs. 
The  embassy  bombing  was  condemned  by  the  Tucuman  Pan  Islamic  Association 
and  Buenos  Aires  Islamic  Centre,  two  Syro-Lebanese  institutions;  the  Palestine 
Information  Office,  a  locally  created  precursor  of  the  Palestine  National  Authority's 
diplomatic  representation;  as  well  as  a  score  of  personalities  of  Arab  ancestry.  Two 
years  later,  the  leader  of  an  Iran-supported  Buenos  Aires  mosque  repudiated  the 
AMIA  bombing,  while  a  FEARAB  leader  expressed  his  solidarity  with  the  shocked 
Jewish  community  (quite  unlike  FEARAB's  attitude  vis-a-vis  the  Israeli  embassy 
blast,  when  it  had  raised  the  possibility  that  it  was  due  to  explosives  stored  at  the 
diplomatic  representation).  Against  the  backdrop  of  such  a  sea  change,  it  is  perhaps 
unsurprising  that  Menem  should  have  attended  the  60th-anniversary  celebrations 
of  the  DAIA's  founding  in  July  1935  in  the  company  of  the  president  of  FEARAB, 
an  umbrella  organization  for  a  host  of  institutions  created  by  Syrian  and  Lebanese 
immigrants,  whether  Christian,  Muslim,  or  nondenominational,  which  was  inspired 
by  Syria's  ruling  Baath  party. 

Nazi  War  Criminals 

Having  embarked  upon  a  neo-liberal  economic  program  and  adjusted  the  coun- 
try's foreign  policy  accordingly,  Menem's  government  aligned  Argentina  with  the 
United  States  in  a  way  his  predecessors — whether  civilian  or  military,  Peronist(PJ) 
or  Radical — plainly  resisted.  Such  resistance  was  at  the  root  of  many  caricatures 
of  Argentina  as  a  former  Axis  asset  and  den  of  leading  war  criminals,  and  of  Juan 
Peron  himself  as  a  "megalomaniac  Nazi,"  as  he  was  inaccurately  described  by  U.S. 
assistant  secretary  of  state  Spruille  Braden  in  the  1940s.  The  effort  to  persuade  U.S. 
public  opinion,  not  just  the  Washington  administration,  that  Argentina  was  un- 
deserving of  the  Nazi  stigma  attached  to  the  Peronist  movement's  founder  and  his 
following  can  be  seen  as  lying  behind  President  Menem's  announcement  in  February 
1992  that  he  was  releasing  official  files  on  the  postwar  influx  of  Nazis  into  the 
country,  a  measure  that  paved  the  way  for  his  government's  later  grant  to  Argen- 
tina's Holocaust  Foundation  of  a  centrally  located  Buenos  Aires  building  where  a 
museum  is  being  set  up. 

The  Argentine  government's  decision  has  yielded  easier  access  to  a  mass  of 
documents  that  were  already  in  the  public  domain  (and  that  were  studied  without 
fanfare  by  Argentine,  Israeli,  and  other  scholars  long  before  this  announcement). 

ARGENTINA      /      233 

as  well  as  allowed  consultation  of  a  smaller  number  of  recent  files,  e.g.,  that  of 
Abraham  Kipp,  a  Dutch  collaborationist  war  criminal  (sentenced  to  death  in  ab- 
sentia), whose  extradition  was  requested  by  Holland  during  President  Raul  Alfon- 
sin's  incumbency  (1983-89).  During  the  early  months  of  Menem's  first  term,  a 
judge  ruled  that  Kipp  would  not  be  sent  back  to  the  Netherlands,  among  other 
reasons,  because  of  loopholes  in  the  Argentine-Dutch  extradition  treaty  of  1893.  The 
same  magistrate,  though,  decided  in  June  1995  to  grant  an  Italian  request  for  the 
extradition  of  Erich  Priebke,  a  fomer  Gestapo  officer  in  Rome  who  fled  to  Argentina 
in  1948  and  was  identified  in  1994  by  ABC  News.  Priebke  would  be  the  country's 
third  deportee:  the  first  was  Gerhard  Bohne  in  1966;  the  second,  Josef  Schwamm- 
berger  in  1990,  both  to  Germany. 

Priebke's  detention  prompted  then  Interior  Minister  Carlos  Ruckauf  to  announce 
that  a  police  unit  would  be  set  up  to  investigate  whether  other  Nazis  on  the  run  were 
still  living  in  the  country.  In  reality,  even  if  the  relevant  personnel  worked  with 
unrivaled  zeal  to  track  down  war  criminals  among  a  dwindling  population  of 
octogenarian  Nazis  and  collaborators,  their  effort  was  unlikely  to  result  in  a  signifi- 
cant number  of  detentions  and  extraditions.  By  way  of  contrast,  Nazi-hunting  units 
in  Austraha,  Britain,  Canada,  and  the  United  States  were  being  scaled  down  or 
closed  altogether,  among  other  reasons  because  of  the  difficulties  presented  by  such 

Academic  and  other  experts  have  yet  to  agree  on  the  number  of  Nazi  and 
collaborationist  war  criminals  who  may  have  taken  refuge  in  postwar  Argentina. 
Two  things  are  clear,  though.  Firstly,  the  memoirs  of  some  of  the  beneficiaries 
suggest  that,  regardless  of  numbers,  Argentina  warmly  welcomed  former  Nazis, 
especially — though  not  only — those  with  scientific  and  technical  skills,  who  arrived 
during  the  short  interregnum  between  the  demise  of  the  Third  Reich  and  the  onset 
of  the  Cold  War.  Thereafter  things  changed.  Since  1949,  no  Allied  policies  pre- 
vented the  departure  of  former  Nazis  to  Argentina  (as  had  been  the  case  with 
Eastern  Europeans  since  1947),  but  the  slowing  down  of  Argentine  economic 
growth  forced  many  of  those  hired  by  the  Peron  government  to  look  for  employment 
opportunities  elsewhere.  Secondly,  irrespective  of  the  revisionism  under  way,  the 
sensationalist  estimate  of  60,000  fugitive  Nazi  war  criminals  in  Argentina  has  been 
seriously  questioned,  explicitly  or  otherwise.  A  headline-grabbing  report  in  the  New 
York  Times  (December  14,  1993)  alluding  to  a  list  of  more  than  1,000  Nazi  and 
collaborationist  war  criminals,  compiled  on  the  strength  of  the  Argentine  files,  was 
cautiously  declared  by  the  Antisemitism  World  Report  1994  as  being  subject  to 
verification.  The  topic  was  discussed  by  an  array  of  Argentine  and  other  specialists 
at  two  international  academic  events  held  in  Buenos  Aires  in  1993-94.  One  was 
organized  by,  among  others,  the  head  of  Testimonio,  the  research  project  on  Argen- 
tina's Nazi  files  set  up  by  DAI  A  in  1993,  and  has  already  yielded  a  Spanish-language 
volume  of  proceedings;  the  second  enjoyed  the  academic  sponsorship  of  three  for- 
eign-based Jewish  bodies:  London's  Institute  of  Jewish  Affairs  (IJA),  the  Latin 
American  Jewish  Studies  Association,  and  the  Agudat  Mehkar  Yahadut  Amerika 

234      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

HaLatinit  in  Israel — with  Spanish-  and  English-language  collections  of  papers  in 

Reservations  about  the  actual  number  of  Nazis  are  not  meant  to  cast  doubt  on 
Argentina's  documented  participation  in  the  race  for  the  academic  and  scientific 
spoils  of  the  Third  Reich,  or  the  reception  of  Nazi  and  collaborationist  war  crimi- 
nals. For  the  time  being,  though,  Menem's  friendly  attitude  on  this  and  other  issues 
of  Jewish  concern  won  him  favor  in  Jewish  circles.  The  World  Jewish  Congress 
awarded  him  its  Nahum  Goldmann  Medal  in  late  1991,  in  the  course  of  a  visit  to 
New  York  during  which  he  met  with  representatives  of  major  Jewish  organizations, 
while  the  Anti-Defamation  League  of  B'nai  B'rith  excluded  his  country — this  was 
before  the  discovery  of  Priebke — from  its  list  of  Latin  American  states  harboring 
Nazis  evading  justice. 



The  absence  of  serious  demographic  studies,  as  well  as  unscientific  assessments 
of  real  and  purported  flaws  in  national  statistics,  and  the  notion  that  the  larger  a 
group's  numerical  strength  the  greater  its  entitlements  to  influence  and/or  other 
benefits  have  tended  to  skew  self-estimates  by  Argentina's  ethnic  and  religious 
groups,  whether  Jews,  Muslims,  Ukrainians,  or  others.  Not  surprisingly,  until  the 
1970s,  self-estimates  of  Argentina's  Jewish  population  were  particularly  inflated, 
only  diff"ering  in  the  scope  of  exaggeration  from  some  of  the  extravagant  figures 
off"ered  by  sources  inimical  to  Jews.  The  first  major  demographic  study  of  Argentine 
Jews  was  carried  out  in  the  1970s  by  the  Hebrew  University's  Institute  of  Contempo- 
rary Jewry  (ICJ).  It  established  that  Argentina's  Jewish  inhabitants,  Ashkenazic  in 
their  majority,  numbered  some  225,000  souls.  Ahhough  this  figure  is  based  on 
substantial  research,  it  is  not  beyond  refinement.  In  some  respects,  Argentina  is  a 
country  like  France,  with  a  large  and  growing  proportion  of  marginal  Jews,  i.e., 
those  born  into  Jewish  households  who,  whatever  their  reasons,  are  unaffiliated. 
Hence,  following  French  sociologist  Dominique  Schnapper's  methodological  con- 
siderations, it  is  legitimate  to  suggest  that  the  ICJ's  estimate  could  be  higher.  Indeed, 
if  the  French  case  is  anything  to  go  by,  an  upward  revision  of  up  to  20  percent  may 
well  be  justified. 

Be  that  as  it  may,  ICJ  demographers  unwittingly  lent  an  important  degree  of 
credibility  to  Argentina's  national  censuses,  whose  figures  were  considerably  closer 
to  the  mark  than  many  had  been  prepared  to  believe.  After  1960,  though,  these  no 
longer  included  an  item  on  religious  affiliation.  Whereas  the  1947  census  identified 
249,000  Jews,  ICJ  demographers  now  think  that  the  real  number  was  285,800.  The 
gap  between  these  figures  is  partly  explained  by.  an  estimate  of  individuals  who 
legalized  their  situation  as  a  result  of  a  Peron  government  amnesty  of  1948,  aimed 

ARGENTINA      /      235 

at  all  extralegal  arrivals.  Although  the  number  of  its  Jewish  beneficiaries  was  cal- 
culated on  the  basis  of  local  Jewish  records  to  be  in  the  region  of  10,000,  it  was 
originally  estimated  to  be  more  than  three  times  bigger  by  sources  as  politically 
divergent  as  the  American  Jewish  Committee  and  the  Peronist  Organizacion  Isra- 
elita  Argentina.  If  the  latter  were  correct,  the  gap  with  those  quantified  by  the  census 
looks  definitely  closed.  Additionally,  whatever  the  real  number  of  those  who  had 
to  enter  the  country  in  unorthodox  ways  (the  latter  due  to  a  decreasing  interest  in 
Jewish  and  other  atypical  and  unwanted  immigrants  by  Argentina's  elites  and 
governments  after  the  late  1920s),  and  who,  once  there,  lived  relatively  unharassed, 
Jews  no  doubt  were  one  of  the  groups  for  whom  the  amnesty,  which  also  benefited 
Nazis  and  others,  was  most  rewarding. 


Over  the  years,  political  and  economic  turmoil  fostered  emigration.  This,  together 
with  assimilation  and  intermarriage,  generally  accounts  for  the  decreasing  Jewish 
presence  in  Argentina.  Israeli  statistics  reveal  that  some  50,000  Jews  from  Argentina 
moved  permanently  to  the  Jewish  state  during  1948-93,  where  they  far  outnumber 
all  those  hailing  from  the  rest  of  Latin  America.  Although  Argentine  Jewish  emigra- 
tion to  countries  outside  Israel — whether  other  Latin  American  states,  the  United 
States,  Europe,  or  elsewhere — remains  unquantified,  direct  observation  and  oral 
accounts  support  the  assumption  that  it  is  substantial.  Most  Jews,  however,  have 
chosen  to  remain  in  Argentina. 


Although  generally  perceived  as  urban  middle-class,  Argentine  Jewry  cannot  be 
treated  as  a  homogeneous  group.  An  illustration  of  this  is  the  occupational  profile 
of  the  1,317  Jews  who  enrolled  with  the  job  center  of  the  Buenos  Aires  Jewish 
Community  (AMI A)  in  the  course  of  a  six-week  period  during  April-May  1995. 
Rather  than  an  exclusive  sample  of  people  looking  for  work  as  accountants,  business 
administrators,  computer  experts,  engineers,  journalists,  psychologists,  social  work- 
ers, and  sociologists,  i.e.,  persons  equipped  with  higher  educational  degrees,  there 
were  many  seeking  nonprofessional  jobs  as  beauticians,  carpenters,  cashiers,  clerks, 
hairdressers,  locksmiths,  nurses,  plumbers,  receptionists,  salespersons,  sales  repre- 
sentatives, and  telephone  operators,  as  well  as  a  third  group  consisting  of  bricklay- 
ers, cooks  and  kitchen  helpers,  drivers,  maintenance  workers,  messengers,  and 

Like  fellow  Argentines  of  similar  socioeconomic  standing,  Jews  have  been  affected 
by  economic  changes  going  back  to  1975.  These  include  the  serious  erosion  of 
possibilities  for  upward  mobility  and  the  reality  of  downward  mobility  resulting 
from  the  growing  gap  in  income  distribution,  and  the  associated  rise  in  poverty  and 
social  marginalization  that  accompanied  adjustment  policies  aimed  at  overcoming 

236      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

the  economic  instability  of  the  1980s.  Indicative  of  this  are  the  following  AMIA 
figures:  whereas  an  average  of  400  job  seekers  registered  monthly  with  AMIA 
during  March  1993-June  1994,  that  number  more  than  doubled  by  1995. 

At  the  same  time,  the  Jewish  community's  social  structure,  different  from  that 
of  Argentina  as  a  whole,  helps  explain  the  comparably  small  number  of  needy  Jews. 
This  is  illustrated  by  the  fact  that  AMIA's  social-welfare  department  assisted  some 
2,000  have-not  families  in  1986,  a  number  that  has  since  reached  an  internally 
estimated  level  of  over  2,500  families.  Adding  the  smaller  numbers  aided  by  Sephar- 
dic  and  German-Jewish  institutions,  it  appears  that  aid  recipients  did  not  exceed  a 
maximum  of  3,000  families  in  1995,  or  some  12,000  needy  Jews  in  the  community. 


At  the  beginning  of  the  1995  school  year,  scholarships  were  granted  to  6,000 
students  attending  Jewish  schools,  about  a  third  of  the  Jewish  school  population  in 
the  federal  capital  and  greater  Buenos  Aires.  Such  scholarships,  together  with  the 
mergers  of  smaller  and  less  viable  educational  establishments,  helped  prevent  a 
sharp  drop  in  the  level  of  school  enrollment  in  an  area  encompassing  some  80 
percent  of  the  country's  Jews.  Enrollment  in  kindergarten,  primary,  and  secondary 
education  institutions  rose  14.2  percent  from  1980  to  1989,  to  18,023  Jewish  school 
students,  but  that  number  had  fallen  to  some  17,600  by  1995.  Still,  the  above- 
mentioned  measures  helped  to  maintain  a  level  of  enrollment  that  was  higher  than 
that  of  1980. 

Communal  Affairs 

The  bombings  of  the  Israeli  embassy  and  the  AMIA  building  exacerbated  some 
long-simmering  internal  tensions  in  the  Jewish  community.  Since  local  Jewish  lead- 
ers openly  discuss  these  matters  in  the  Argentine  media,  and  the  country's  press  has 
shown  a  hitherto  unrivaled  interest  in  Jewish  community  affairs,  these  tensions  can 
hardly  be  swept  under  the  carpet. 

One  source  of  controversy  was  the  Israeli  embassy.  Since  it  had  been  initially 
acquired  and  furnished  by  members  of  the  Jewish  community — as  clearly  recalled 
in  the  rich  memoirs  of  Israel's  first  diplomatic  representative  in  Buenos  Aires,  Jacob 
Tsur — it  is  hardly  surprising  that  its  destruction  was  followed  by  a  fund-raising 
drive  to  erect  a  new  building.  This  well-meaning  effort  was  deemed  unwarranted  by 
many,  however,  especially  those  aware  both  of  the  difference  in  Israeli  circum- 
stances in  the  1940s  and  1990s  and  the  Jewish  community's  diminishing  ability  to 
assist  its  neediest  without  the  injection  of  funds  from  foreign  donors.  While  such 
criticism  did  not  prevent  the  purchase  of  a  plot  in  a  residential  quarter  that  hosts 
other  diplomatic  representations,  Israeli  ambassador  Yitzhak  Aviran  objected  to  the 
site,  the  project  design,  and  other  elements.  As  a  result,  the  initiative  was  abandoned 
after  an  official  ground-breaking  ceremony  was  attended  by,  among  others,  Foreign 

ARGENTINA      /      237 

Minister  Guido  Di  Telia  and  Argentine  Jewish  leaders.  The  apparently  insurmount- 
able differences  between  the  ambassador  and  the  Argentine  Jewish  donors  may  be 
taken  as  an  indication  of  developing  changes  in  Israel-Diaspora  relations. 

After  the  second  bombing,  the  president  of  the  DAIA  (whose  headquarters  were 
in  the  destroyed  building),  Ruben  Beraja,  came  under  attack  by  some  frustrated  with 
the  slow  pace  of  the  government's  investigation.  Public  criticism  of  Jewish  leaders 
is  nothing  new.  Accusations  of  indifference,  if  not  worse,  were  leveled  at  the  DAIA 
by  the  Argentine  and  Israeli  relatives  of  the  "desaparecidos,"  in  the  latter  half  of 
the  1970s,  when  many  more  Jews — largely  (though  not  only)  unaffiliated — were 
killed  than  in  the  two  recent  bombings  or  in  any  other  anti-Jewish  incidents  since 
Argentina's  independence  (the  1919  Tragic  Week  possibly  excepted).  In  fact,  some 
of  those  most  unhappy  with  the  DAIA's  record  during  1976-83,  with  the  small 
number  of  officers  prosecuted  under  Alfonsin  for  their  involvement  in  human-rights 
violations  (their  cases  still  being  without  precedent  in  the  annals  of  Argentine 
history),  and  with  Menem's  pardons,  were  the  most  critical  of  the  Jewish  umbrella 
organization's  president.  So  far,  evidence  of  Beraja's  closeness  to  Menem  and  other 
political  figures  within  the  ruling  PJ  was  not  any  stronger  than  that  regarding  the 
ties  of  other  Jewish  leaders  to  earlier  military  and  civilian  rulers.  Nor  was  there 
evidence  that  Beraja  had  compromised  Jewish  community  interests,  as  was  report- 
edly the  case  with  some  episodes  in  the  1976-83  period.  Insinuations  against  him 
need  to  be  understood  in  the  context  of  Argentine  Jewish  political  culture  and  the 
fact  that  Beraja  is  only  the  fourth  non-Ashkenazi  to  head  the  DAIA  since  its 
inception  in  1935.  Unlike  Ashkenazic  contenders  for  leadership  of  the  community, 
who  have  traditionally  been  aligned  with  Israeli  political  parties,  many  Sephardic 
Jews  in  Argentina  and  elsewhere  have  historically  been  lukewarm  toward  political 
Zionism,  more  at  home  with  Sephardic  religious  institutions  than  with  the  more 
traditional  sources  of  Israeli  influence.  Thus,  whatever  the  merits  or  demerits  of  the 
anti-Beraja  claims,  he  is  clearly  an  economically  successful  Jew  of  Syrian  parentage, 
well-rooted  in  Argentina,  but  in  certain  respects  viewed  as  an  outsider  by  the 
traditional  Ashkenazic  establishment. 

When  all  is  said  and  done,  the  bombings,  especially  the  second  one,  promoted 
stronger  links  between  Argentine  Jewry  and  Jewish  bodies  abroad,  whether  in  Israel 
or  the  Diaspora.  This  is  attested  by  the  compilation  of  a  collection  of  press  reports 
on  the  second  bombing  by  the  Madrid-based  Hebraica  as  well  as  in  the  more 
practical  trilateral  linkage  between  the  Buenos  Aires  and  Chicago  Jewish  communi- 
ties and  the  Tel  Aviv  municipality. 

iGNACio  Klich 

Western  Europe 

Great  Britain 

National  Affairs 


lS  the  popularity  of  the  Conservative  government  continued  to 
decline  in  1994  and  early  1995 — despite  signs  of  further  economic  recovery— that 
of  the  opposition  Labor  Party  and  to  some  extent  also  that  of  the  Liberal  Democrats 
continued  to  rise.  Tory  unpopularity  was  shown  in  massive  losses  in  local  elections 
in  May  1 994  and  May  1 995  and  in  the  elections  for  the  European  Parliament  in  June 
1994.  Evidence  from  polls  suggested  that  since  the  summer  of  1994,  not  only  were 
Conservatives  abstaining  but  also  they  were  switching  their  support  to  Labor.  The 
government's  one  major  success,  following  secret  negotiations,  undeniably  lay  in  the 
decision  of  the  Irish  Republican  Army  in  August  to  declare  an  "unconditional" 

Manifest  disunity  in  the  government  and  in  the  Conservative  Party — most  obvi- 
ous in  the  case  of  policy  toward  the  European  Union — as  well  as  recurrent  scandals 
involving  sex  and  money  and  professional  lobbyists,  cumulatively  created  an  atmo- 
sphere of  sleaze  that  discredited  the  integrity  of  people  in  public  life.  Standards  of 
care  in  the  National  Health  Service  and  educational  resources  were  also  perceived 
to  be  deteriorating.  The  national  budget,  presented  in  November  1994,  pledged  cuts 
of  £28  billion  in  public  spending  and  was  widely  held  to  be  associated  with  the 
decline  in  pubhc  services. 

The  counterpart  to  Tory  decline  was  the  rise  of  Labor.  The  latter  party  did  indeed 
suffer  a  grievous  blow  with  the  sudden  death  of  its  popular  leader,  John  Smith,  in 
May  1 994.  After  a  period  of  maneuvering,  Tony  Blair  was  elected  leader  in  July  and 
immediately  undertook  a  campaign  to  modernize  the  party  and  to  forge  a  new 
relationship  with  the  trade  unions.  Meanwhile,  Paddy  Ashdown,  leader  of  the 
Liberal  Democrats,  was  attempting  to  move  his  party  closer  to  Labor  and  discard 
its  earlier  policy  of  "equidistance"  between  the  two  major  parties.  This  move,  if 
adopted  by  the  Liberal  Democrats,  would  certainly  increase  the  pressure  on  the 


GREAT    BRITAIN      /      239 

Israel  and  the  Middle  East 

"Our  political  relationship  .  .  .  has  never  been  so  warm,  has  never  had  so  much 
content  and  common  ground,"  commented  Prime  Minister  John  Major  after  meet- 
ing with  Prime  Minister  Yitzhak  Rabin  of  Israel  in  Jerusalem  in  March  1995.  This 
closeness  was  already  apparent  in  May  1994,  when  the  British  government  lifted  its 
12-year  embargo  on  sales  of  arms  to  Israel;  in  June,  when  Israel  and  Britain  set  up 
a  joint  science  and  technology  research  fund;  in  August,  when  Foreign  Office 
minister  Douglas  Hogg  stated  Britain's  readiness  to  allow  Israel  full  participation 
in  the  European  Union's  high-tech  research  program;  and  in  September,  when 
Major,  visiting  Saudi  Arabia,  attempted  to  secure  the  end  of  the  Arab  trade  embargo 
against  Israel. 

October  marked  a  high  point:  General  Ehud  Barak  became  the  first  Israeli  chief 
of  staff  to  visit  Britain,  and  Malcolm  Rifkind  the  first  British  defense  secretary  to 
visit  Israel  officially.  (Rifkind,  Tory  MP  for  Edinburgh  Pentlands  and  a  strongly 
identifying  Jew,  was  appointed  to  his  post  in  1992.)  Major  described  Israel's  peace 
agreement  with  Jordan  as  an  "extraordinary  achievement"  during  a  warm  and 
productive  meeting  with  Prime  Minister  Rabin  on  a  visit  to  London  that  was 
abruptly  curtailed  because  of  a  suicide  bomb  attack  in  Tel  Aviv;  and  Queen  Eliza- 
beth's consort.  Prince  Philip,  visited  Jerusalem  to  receive  the  "Righteous  Gentile" 
award  presented  posthumously  to  his  mother.  Princess  Alice,  who  had  hidden 
Greek  Jews  from  the  Nazis  during  World  War  II.  In  November,  Major,  the  first 
British  prime  minister  to  address  the  Joint  Israel  Appeal's  (JIA)  main  fund-raising 
event  in  London,  endorsed  the  unprecedentedly  close  ties  between  Britain  and 

Some  points  of  contention  remained,  including  the  future  of  Jerusalem.  A  state- 
ment by  Major  in  May  1994,  emphasizing  that  Britain  did  not  recognize  Israeli 
sovereignty  over  any  part  of  Jerusalem,  was  thought  untimely  but  representing  no 
shift  in  policy.  The  statement  was  issued  when  the  Likud-backed  Campaign  for  a 
United  Jerusalem  asked  Major  to  send  greetings  to  a  Jerusalem  Day  dinner  in 
London.  In  March  1995,  Jerusalem's  mayor,  Ehud  Olmert,  attacked  the  decision 
to  send  a  Foreign  Office  diplomat  to  the  PLO's  Jerusalem  headquarters.  Orient 
House,  during  Major's  visit.  Speaking  at  the  opening  of  Anglo-Jewry's  celebration 
of  3,000  years  of  Jerusalem,  he  criticized  Major  and  other  British  officials  for  faihng 
to  grasp  Israeli  and  Jewish  anxieties  about  the  city's  future. 

Another  point  of  dispute  was  Israeli  settlement  policy.  In  April  1994,  Foreign 
Office  minister  Hogg  announced  that,  in  an  effort  to  prevent  extremists  from  scut- 
tling peace  efforts,  Britain  was  making  regular  representations  to  the  Israelis  to 
"cease  the  construction  of  settlements  which  we  regard  as  illegal . . .  and  an  obstacle 
to  peace." 

The  British  government  showed  its  support  for  Palestinian  control  over  the 
autonomous  areas  of  Gaza  and  Jericho  in  various  ways.  Following  the  massacre  of 
Palestinians  in  Hebron's  Cave  of  the  Patriarchs  by  a  Jewish  settler  in  February  1 994, 

240      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

Prime  Minister  Major  wrote  to  PLO  leader  Yasir  Arafat  denouncing  the  act  and 
promising  to  provide  £34,000  in  aid  for  those  wounded  in  the  attack.  In  May,  when 
Britain  warmly  welcomed  the  Cairo  signing  of  the  Israel-PLO  agreement  to  with- 
draw Israeli  forces  from  Gaza  and  Jericho,  the  government  announced  the  provision 
of  £70  million  in  assistance  in  the  year  ahead.  In  July,  after  warnings  from  Foreign 
Office  officials  that  delay  in  bringing  law,  order,  and  prosperity  to  Gaza  and  Jericho 
would  play  into  the  hands  of  extremists  opposed  to  the  peace  process,  the  figure  was 
raised  to  £75  million.  In  July  it  was  reported  that  senior  Palestinian  police  officers 
were  receiving  training  at  Bramshill,  Britain's  national  police  training  college,  while 
Whitehall-backed  experts  were  advising  Arafat's  officials  on  setting  up  a  civil  service 
and  independent  judiciary  and  on  the  development  of  financial  institutions. 

In  January  1994,  Britain  agreed  to  export  arms  to  the  Lebanese  government  in 
order  to  strengthen  its  control  over  the  country;  in  October,  Hogg,  returning  from 
a  visit  to  Damascus  and  Beirut,  called  on  Lebanon  to  stop  Iranian-backed  funda- 
mentalist guerrillas  from  attacking  Israel.  Addressing  an  Institute  of  Jewish  Aifairs 
(IJA)  meeting  in  London  the  same  month.  Foreign  Secretary  Douglas  Hurd  called 
Iran  the  world's  most  dangerous  exporter  of  terrorism.  In  March  1995,  in  an 
interview  with  the  Jewish  Chronicle,  Major  reaffirmed  Britain's  determination  to 
confront  extremist  violence  by  groups  supported  by  Iran  and  other  countries.  Brit- 
ain, he  said,  had  not  changed  its  position  on  Iraq,  nor  its  "concern"  about  Iran,  both 
of  which  were  opposed  to  the  peace  process. 

The  London-based  Committee  to  Free  Mordechai  Vanunu,  the  imprisoned  Isradi 
nuclear  spy,  pressed  its  cause  at  a  Jerusalem  meeting  with  Israeli  president  Ezei 
Weizman  in  December  1994  and  published  simultaneously  an  appeal  signed  by 
leading  politicians,  actors,  and  writers  in  newspapers  in  London,  Tel  Aviv,  New 
York,  and  Cairo. 

Islamic  Terrorism 

The  threat  from  terrorist  attempts  to  disrupt  the  Israeli-Palestinian  peace  process 
caused  the  Board  of  Deputies  of  British  Jews  to  put  the  Jewish  community  on  the 
alert,  first  in  March  1994  after  the  Hebron  massacre  in  Israel  and  again  after  the 
Jewish  community  building  in  Buenos  Aires,  Argentina,  was  bombed  on  July  18. 
However,  nothing  could  prepare  the  community  for  the  two  horrifying  car-bomb 
attacks  that  took  place  on  July  26,  one  outside  London's  Israeli  embassy,  the  other 
outside  the  offices  of  the  Joint  Israel  Appeal  (JIA).  No  fatalities  resulted,  but  19 
people  were  injured,  and  the  buildings  were  considerably  damaged.  A  pledge  that 
Britain  would  do  its  utmost  to  catch  the  perpetrators  was  given  by  Foreign  Secretary 
Hurd  to  Israeli  ambassador  Moshe  Raviv  and  by  Home  Secretary  Michael  Howaid 
to  community  leaders. 

Immediately  following  the  attacks,  armed  police,  backed  up  by  Scotland  Yard's 
antiterrorist  squad,  mounted  guard  on  key  Jewish  institutions.  In  August  Scotland 
Yard  officials  meeting  with  Board  of  Deputies  security  officers  considered  that  the 

GREAT    BRITAIN      /      241 

community  was  still  under  "significant  threat,"  and  in  September  Home  Secretary 
Howard  agreed  to  maintain  a  nationwide  antiterrorist  guard  on  Jewish  communal 
institutions.  In  November  a  communitywide  security  operation  was  launched  after 
Assistant  Commissioner  David  Veness,  in  charge  of  Metropolitan  Police  specialist 
operations  at  Scotland  Yard,  cautioned  community  leaders  against  becoming  com- 
placent. British  Jewry  was  facing  a  long-term  threat  from  extremist  terror  gangs 
"motivated  by  a  rejection  of  peaceful  coexistence  in  the  Middle  East,"  Veness  said. 
In  January  1995,  five  Palestinians,  bom  in  either  Lebanon  or  Jordan,  were  ar- 
rested and  held  under  the  Prevention  of  Terrorism  Act  in  connection  with  the 
bombings.  Between  January  and  March,  three  of  the  five  (Nadia  Zekra,  Samar 
Alami,  and  Jawed  Mahmoud  Botmeh)  were  charged  at  Bow  Street  magistrates  court 
with  conspiring  with  others  to  cause  explosions.  In  April  Botmeh  and  Zekra  were 
committed  to  stand  trial  at  the  Old  Bailey,  and  in  May  Zekra  and  Alami  were  freed 
on  bail  totaling  £1  million. 

Anti-Semitism  and  Racism 

The  number  of  anti-Semitic  incidents  reported  in  the  United  Kingdom  increased 
to  346  in  1993  from  292  in  1992,  according  to  figures  released  by  the  Board  of 
Deputies  of  British  Jews  in  June  1994.  An  annual  report  published  the  same  month 
by  the  London-based  Institute  of  Jewish  Affairs  (IJA)  placed  the  rise  in  the  preced- 
ing year  at  over  20  percent.  Entitled  Antisemitism  World  Report  1994,  the  270-page 
document  assessing  anti-Semitism  in  more  than  70  countries  named  the  United 
Kingdom  as  one  of  ten  countries  where  manifestations  of  anti-Semitism  were  in- 
creasing. Incidents  had  risen  steadily  over  a  five-year  period,  and  "the  cUmate  has 
definitely  deteriorated,"  it  stated.  IJA  executive  director  Antony  Lerman  expressed 
"great  concern"  at  the  increase  in  "electronic  Fascism,"  the  distribution  of  anti- 
Semitic  and  Holocaust-denial  material  through  computer  networks  and  bulletin 
boards,  computer  games  and  videos,  telephone  networks  and  hot  lines,  most  of 
which,  Lerman  claimed,  came  from  the  United  States. 

The  Board  of  Deputies  reported  that  anti-Semitic  incidents  rose  sharply  after  the 
July  car-bombings  of  the  Israeli  embassy  and  Joint  Israel  Appeal  offices  (see  above). 
More  than  50  incidents — double  the  monthly  average — occurred  between  July  26 
and  August  26,  including  threatening  telephone  calls,  assaults,  and  abusive  behav- 

Although  Jews  in  Britain  had  not  been  subject  to  physical  violence  in  the  way  that 
other  minorities  had,  according  to  Mike  Whine,  Board  of  Deputies  defense  director, 
the  continued  high  level  of  desecration  of  communal  property — 21  percent  of  total 
attacks — was  cause  for  serious  concern.  In  February  1994  an  attack  on  Grimsby 
cemetery  was  reported;  in  April  there  was  a  burglary  and  arson  attack  on  the 
Machzikei  Hadass  mikveh  (ritual  bath)  at  Preston,  Manchester;  in  October  a  nur- 
sery school  in  Stamford  Hill,  North  London,  was  burned  down;  in  November  an 
arson  attack  at  Stamford  Hill's  Yesodey  Hatorah  school  was  reported,  and  Pardes 

242      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

House  grammar  school,  Finchley,  North  London,  was  ransacked;  in  December, 
Mamlock  House,  Manchester's  Zionist  headquarters,  was  broken  into;  in  April  1995 
an  arson  attack  severely  damaged  Reuben's  Kosher  Restaurant  in  Central  London. 

The  IJA  report  found  the  distribution  of  anti-Semitic  material  "disturbing."  This 
included  leaflets  sent  to  Jewish  and  non-Jewish  homes  in  North-West  London 
referring  to  Jewish  ritual  murder  and  accusing  Jews  of  pedophilia,  a  pamphlet 
distributed  among  far-right  activists  urged  them  to  kill  Jews  and  nonwhites,  and  a 
leaflet  sent  to  some  20  London  nursery  schools  with  the  message  "Avoid  Orthodox 
Jews— child  ritual  murder  outbreak  feared."  In  February  1995  a  Board  of  Deputies 
delegation  told  Prime  Minister  Major  that  it  was  "puzzled  and  angered"  at  the  lack 
of  prosecutions  against  the  publishers  and  distributors  of  hate  literature.  In  March 
80-year-old  Dowager  Lady  Birdwood  received  a  three-month  suspended  prison 
sentence  at  the  Old  Bailey  for  inciting  racial  hatred  by  the  publication  and  distribu- 
tion of  15,000  copies  of  a  leaflet,  "The  Longest  Hatred,"  alleging  a  Jewish  conspir- 
acy to  undermine  society  and  claiming  that  the  Holocaust  never  happened. 

The  fears  aroused  by  the  first  electoral  victory  of  the  far-right  British  National 
Party  (BNP)  in  London's  East  End  in  September  1993  persisted  throughout  1994, 
because  the  party  was  deemed  responsible  for  many  racist  episodes.  In  January  1994 
Liberal-Democrat  leader  Paddy  Ashdown  called  on  all  main  political  parties  to 
unite  against  BNP  in  May  local  elections.  In  March  the  Board  of  Deputies,  the 
Anti-Racist  Alliance,  the  Churches  Commission  for  Racial  Justice,  and  the  Liberal- 
Democrat  and  Labor  parties  launched  the  United  Campaign  Against  Racism  with 
a  rally  in  the  East  End,  organized  by  the  Trades  Union  Council  and  attended  by 
more  than  35,000  people.  In  April  Home  Secretary  Howard  pledged  the  support  of 
the  Conservative  Party  and  the  government  for  the  campaign.  In  April,  too,  the 
Board  of  Deputies'  defense  committee  mounted  its  biggest  preelection  campaign  in 
years  in  an  effort  to  mobilize  British  Jews  against  racist  candidates  in  the  elections. 

Although  BNP  lost  its  sole  local  government  seat  in  the  May  elections,  far-right 
candidates  increased  their  share  of  total  votes  to  a  national  average  of  6.8  percent 
(from  between  2  and  4  percent  in  1990  local  elections).  However,  in  June  European 
Parliament  elections,  the  14  extreme  right  candidates  averaged  below  2  percent  of 
the  total  votes;  and  BNP  candidates  polled  only  562  and  360  votes,  respectively,  in 
East  London  by-elections — at  Tower  Hamlet  in  December  and  Newham  South  in 
February  1995. 

Even  though  the  government  claimed  to  take  racial  attacks  and  racial  harassment 
"extremely  seriously,"  a  February  1994  report  by  the  Commission  on  SocialJustice 
found  that  current  laws  urgently  required  improvement.  The  government's  response 
came  with  the  introduction  in  May  and  June  of  two  amendments  to  the  Criminal 
Justice  and  Public  Order  Bill:  one  making  the  production  and  distribution  of  racist 
publications  an  arrestable  offense;  the  other  imposing  a  jail  sentence  of  up  to  s« 
months  or  a  fine  of  up  to  £8,000  on  those  "causing  intentional  harassment,  alarm 
or  distress."  By  October-November  both  amendments  had  received  royal  assent.  In 
April  1995,  following  an  investigation  into  racist  literature  distributed  to  police 

GREAT    BRITAIN     /     243 

forces  around  the  country,  police  were  able  to  arrest  two  people  under  the  terms 
of  the  first  amendment. 

The  report  of  the  House  of  Commons  Home  Affairs  Select  Committee  on  Racial 
Violence  was  published  in  June  1994  following  a  year's  deliberations  and  more  than 
100  written  submissions.  The  committee,  chaired  by  Jewish  Conservative  MP  Sir 
Ivan  Lawrence,  made  38  recommendations,  which  it  urged  the  government  to 
implement  "without  delay"  in  view  of  the  rapid  spread  of  racism.  In  July  Home 
Secretary  Howard  dismissed  the  report's  suggestion  of  a  new  law  against  racially 
motivated  assault,  reiterating  his  belief  that  there  was  "already  more  than  enough 
legislation  to  deal  with  such  offenses."  Howard's  20-page  reply  to  the  report  in 
November  supported  some  of  its  recommendations,  including  giving  the  police  extra 
powers  to  prosecute  those  responsible  for  racial  harassment  and  improving  the 
response  by  the  police  and  courts. 

In  January  1995  Union  of  Jewish  Students  (UJS)  campaigns  officer  Paul  Solomon 
told  the  Board  of  Deputies  that  Islamic  fundamentalists  constituted  an  unprece- 
dented threat  to  Jewish  students,  that  the  rise  of  the  fundamentalist  group  Hizb-ut- 
Tahrir  "strikes  at  the  very  root  of  Jewish  campus  experience."  Its  message,  conveyed 
by  leaflets  around  campuses,  mixed  anti-Semitism  and  Holocaust-denial  with  a  call 
to  kill  Jews,  Hindus,  and  homosexuals  and  contempt  for  Western  democratic  ideals. 
Despite  repeated  appeals  to  the  Home  Secretary  from  MPs,  the  Board  of  Deputies, 
and  student  leaders,  the  government  was  reluctant  to  take  legal  action  against  Hizb 
operating  on  university  campuses. 

Nazi  War  Criminals 

In  January  1994  the  Scottish  Office  announced  that  there  was  insufficient  evidence 
to  proceed  with  the  case  expected  to  be  brought  against  Lithuanian-born  Anton 
Gecas,  although  "the  file  would  remain  open."  Gecas,  aged  77,  a  police  officer  in 
a  Lithuanian  battalion,  was  charged  with  involvement  in  the  massacre  of  Jews  in 
Soviet  territory  occupied  by  the  Germans  in  World  War  II. 

The  following  month,  the  decision  was  made  to  wind  down  the  work  of  the 
Scottish  war-crimes  unit.  Addressing  the  concerns  of  some  MPs,  peers,  and  Jewish 
groups,  assurances  were  given  throughout  the  year  that  the  decision  to  close  the 
Scottish  unit  would  have  no  effect  on  inquiries  in  England  and  Wales.  Although 
questions  were  raised  at  the  end  of  the  year  about  continued  funding  of  the  Scotland 
Yard  war-crimes  unit.  Home  Office  minister  Baroness  Blatch  said  in  February  1995 
that  cases  would  be  investigated  "as  long  as  there  is  a  possibility  of  evidence  being 
made  available."  "Parliament  is  determined  that  these  cases  be  pursued."  To  date, 
investigations  had  cost  just  over  £5  million.  Of  the  369  cases  investigated,  the  Crown 
Prosecution  Service  had  decided  not  to  proceed  in  239,  and  over  100  suspects  had 
died  in  the  interim.  In  March  the  attorney-general  revealed  that  government  lawyers 
had  completed  their  examination  of  seven  cases  thought  most  likely  to  result  in 
prosecution.  In  May  he  said  that  20  suspected  Nazis  were  still  under  investigation 

244      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

by  Scotland  Yard's  war-crimes  unit.  In  a  May  issue  of  the  London  Independent  on 
Sunday,  legal-affairs  correspondent  Stephen  Ward  predicted  that  Britain's  first 
war-crimes  trial  in  1 996  would  be  that  of  84-year-old  Siemon  Serafimowicz,  who 
came  to  Britain  in  1947,  worked  as  a  carpenter,  and  now  lived  in  Banstead,  Surrey. 
As  a  senior  police  official  in  Mir,  Belorussia,  during  the  German  occupation,  Serafi- 
mowicz was  allegedly  responsible  for  shooting  Jews,  a  charge  he  denied. 

Also  in  May  1995,  consideration  of  a  bill  calling  for  a  statute  of  limitations  on 
war-crimes  trials,  introduced  in  the  House  of  Lords  by  Lord  Campbell  of  AUoway 
in  November  1 994,  was  suspended  by  the  House  of  Commons  and  no  new  date  for 
discussion  set.  The  bill,  which  would  have  effectively  prohibited  further  war-crimes 
trials,  had  passed  through  all  stages  in  the  Lords. 



The  number  of  synagogue  marriages  in  1 994  showed  its  largest  annual  decrease 
since  1975-76,  according  to  statistics  issued  by  the  Board  of  Deputies'  Community 
Research  Unit.  The  10-percent  drop— to  914  in  1994  from  1,015  in  1993— reflected 
a  decline  in  the  number  of  marriages  in  the  general  population.  Figures  for  com- 
pleted divorces  fell  to  236  in  1994  from  275  in  1993. 

Burials  and  cremations  under  Jewish  auspices  dropped  to  4,069  in  1994  from 
4,359  in  1993.  Estimated  figures  for  births,  based  on  totals  for  circumcision,  rose 
to  2,847  in  1993  from  2,808  in  1992. 

Regional  figures  showed  considerable  variation.  Leeds  Jewish  Historical  Society 
calculated  the  local  community  at  8,900  in  January  1994,  as  compared  with  17,800 
at  its  first  survey  in  1 964.  A  five-yearly  census  by  the  Representative  Council  of 
North-Eastern  Jewry,  published  in  March  1 994,  showed  a  rise  in  the  ultra-Orthodox 
Gateshead  community  to  1,420  from  1 ,200;  and  the  Newcastle  Reform  congregation 
increased  to  227  from  179.  By  contrast,  Newcastle's  United  Hebrew  Congregation 
had  fallen  to  729  from  910  and  Sunderland  to  166  from  291,  while  the  Middles- 
borough  congregation  showed  a  loss  of  40  souls.  The  preliminary  results  of  a  census 
by  Merseyside  Jewish  Representative  Council  published  in  June  1994  suggested  a 
population  of  between  3,300  and  3,400,  against  5,750  ten  years  earlier. 

Communal  Affairs 

Fears  that  Lord  Young's  new  Central  Council  for  Jewish  Community  Services 
(CCJCS) — the  former  Central  Council  for  Jewish  Social  Services  and  an  umbrella 
body  for  41  organizations — could  erode  the  Board  of  Deputies'  position  as  the 
community's  leading  lay  organization  dominated  the  last  months  of  Judge  Israel 
Finestein's  term  as  board  president. 

Finestein  retired  in  April  1 994,  disappointed  at  the  rejection  of  many  of  the 

GREAT    BRITAIN      /      245 

reforms  proposed  during  the  session  but  confident  that  the  board's  machinery  had 
been  improved  and  its  strategy  to  some  extent  rationalized.  In  May  the  Federation 
of  Synagogues — a  grouping  of  right-of-center  Orthodox  synagogues  formed  in  1887 
—decided  not  to  renew  its  affiliation  with  the  board.  This  was  in  part  an  economy 
measure,  but  also  because  federation  president  Arnold  Cohen  no  longer  considered 
the  board  relevant;  individual  federation  synagogues  were  free  to  affiliate  in  their 
own  right. 

In  June  Eldred  Tabachnik,  a  50-year-old  barrister,  became  the  youngest  president 
in  the  Board  of  Deputies'  history.  In  a  drive  to  reassert  the  board's  central  role, 
Tabachnik  pledged  in  July  to  take  the  lead  in  discussions  of  the  chief  rabbi's  review 
of  the  role  of  women  and  to  set  up  a  working  group  to  consider  how  the  board  could 
be  more  responsive  to  the  concerns  of  women  deputies.  In  October  he  launched  an 
initiative  for  a  wide  range  of  consultations  with  communal  leaders  and  organizations 
to  be  held  under  board  auspices.  In  January  1995,  to  indicate  the  importance  the 
board  attached  to  communities  outside  London,  its  leaders  began  a  series  of  visits 
to  major  Jewish  centers,  including  Bournemouth,  Leeds,  and  Glasgow. 

The  inaugural  meeting  took  place  in  March  1994  in  Kidderminster,  North 
Midlands,  of  the  National  Jewish  Youth  Assembly,  sponsored  by  the  Board  of 
Deputies  together  with  the  Jewish  Lads'  and  Girls'  Brigade,  the  Association  of 
Jewish  Youth,  Maccabi  Union,  and  the  Zionist  Youth  Council.  Between  them,  these 
groups  provided  activities  for  up  to  20,000  young  Jews  weekly,  but  they  operated 
with  a  total  deficit  of  £400,000.  Speakers  at  the  conference  claimed  that  young  Jews 
were  entitled  to  financial  support  as  an  investment  for  the  future  and  demanded  that 
the  assembly  be  represented  on  "all  major  decision-making  bodies,  including  the 
Board  of  Deputies."  A  commission  of  inquiry  into  the  funding  of  youth  services, 
under  the  auspices  of  CCJCS  and  headed  by  high  court  judge  Sir  Bernard  Rix,  issued 
its  report  in  August  1994,  pinpointing  the  need  for  improved  funding,  marketing, 
and  planning  of  youth  services.  In  October  the  organizations  involved  agreed  to 
meet  under  the  auspices  of  the  Board  of  Deputies  to  discuss  a  follow-up  to  the  Rix 

In  April  1994  a  Holocaust  survivors'  center  opened  at  Sinclair  House,  the  Jewish 
youth  and  community  center  in  Redbridge,  East  London.  A  year  later  Sinclair 
House  announced  plans  to  merge  with  Jewish  Care,  Anglo-Jewry's  largest  domestic 
charity,  giving  Jewish  Care  its  first  direct  involvement  in  youth  and  community 
work.  In  May  1994,  Nightingale  House,  the  home  for  aged  Jews  in  South  London, 
benefited  financially  from  a  bequest  of  property  in  Charleston,  South  Carolina,  by 
Alec  Davidson,  a  Londoner  who  had  emigrated  to  the  United  States. 

The  50th  anniversary  of  VE  (Victory  in  Europe)  Day  in  May  1995  was  observed 
with  services  of  commemoration  of  the  dead  and  thanksgiving  for  peace  in  syna- 
gogues throughout  the  country.  Prior  to  VE  Day,  a  newspaper  poll  found  that  fewer 
than  40  percent  of  1 1  -  14-year-olds  in  state  schools  had  heard  of  the  Holocaust.  This 
brought  appeals  from  the  chief  rabbi  and  Israeli  ambassador  Moshe  Raviv  for  a 
national  Holocaust  Museum  to  be  created  in  London. 

246      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

British  Jewry's  efforts  on  behalf  of  Soviet  Jewry  were  divided  between  groups  like 
the  35s,  the  Women's  Campaign  for  Soviet  Jewry,  which  stressed  resettlement  in 
Israel,  and  programs  like  Exodus  2000,  which  worked  with  youth  in  the  former 
Soviet  Union  to  create  new  communal  structures  and  train  future  leaders.  Exodus, 
run  by  the  Reform  Synagogues  of  Great  Britain  in  conjunction  with  the  Israel-based 
World  Union  for  Progressive  Judaism,  reported  in  September  1994  that,  after  two 
years'  operation,  1 2  congregations  in  Britain  were  twinned  with  counterparts  in  the 
former  Soviet  Union.  In  addition,  visiting  British  rabbis  had  held  seminars  and 
taught  in  the  newly  formed  Institute  of  Advanced  Jewish  Studies  in  Russia,  and 
exchange  visits  and  summer  camps  had  been  organized. 

January  1994  saw  an  active  campaign  on  behalf  of  Ron  Arad,  the  missing  Israeli 
airman  thought  to  be  held  hostage  by  Tehran-based  gunmen  in  Lebanon  since  he 
disappeared  in  1986.  Simon  Pollock,  chairman  of  the  Free  Ron  Arad  Campaign, 
sent  a  direct  appeal  for  help  to  Iranian  diplomats  in  London,  and  some  850  people 
demonstrated  outside  the  Iranian  embassy  to  show  solidarity  with  Arad.  British 
diplomats,  including  Foreign  Secretary  Hurd,  took  up  Arad's  case  in  talks  with 
Syrian  and  Iranian  officials.  And  Prime  Minister  John  Major,  presented  with  a 
petition  with  25,000  signatures,  assured  Arad's  family  that  Britain  would  play  a 
leading  role  in  the  international  campaign  to  secure  Arad's  freedom. 

In  April  1994  a  seder  for  Bosnian  Jewish  refugees  was  held  at  the  North- Western 
Reform  Synagogue,  in  Golders  Green,  North- West  London.  In  June  Belgrade  Jews 
received  an  emergency  consignment  of  medical  equipment  and  food  sent  by  the 
Central  British  Fund  (CBF)- World  Jewish  Relief  and  the  British-Israel  Forum,  a 
London-based  Jewish  volunteer  network.  CBF- World  Jewish  Relief  changed  its 
name  to  World  Jewish  Relief  in  March  1995;  in  April  it  sent  Passover  food  to  the 
Jewish  community  of  Sarajevo. 


Even  as  Jews  worried  about  Arab  terror  and  Islamic  fundamentalist  activity  on 
campuses,  there  were  eflForts  to  bring  Jews  and  Muslims  closer  together.  Jews, 
Muslims,  and  Christians  attended  memorial  services  in  March  1994  at  the  West 
London  Reform  Synagogue  for  victims  of  the  Hebron  massacre  and  in  November 
at  London's  Yakar  for  victims  of  the  Tel  Aviv  bus  bombing,  the  latter  arranged  by 
Palestinian  peace  activist  Saida  Nusseibeh.  In  October  a  Jewish-Muslim  community 
forum  was  set  up  in  Manchester  to  "promote  good  relations  and  mutual  understand- 
ing," while  in  London  the  Institute  of  Jewish  AflFairs  organized  an  interfaith  meeting 
at  which  Dr.  Zaki  Badawi,  chairman  of  the  U.K.  Imams  and  Mosques  Council, 
shared  a  platform  with  Board  of  Deputies  vice-president  Rosalind  Preston.  In 
November  North  London's  Leo  Baeck  College  joined  with  the  Calamus  Foundation 
to  present  a  lecture  series,  "Where  Muslim  and  Jewish  Civilizations  Meet." 

GREAT    BRITAIN      /      247 



In  June  1994  women  took  seats  for  the  first  time  on  the  United  Synagogue  (US) 
Council,  the  central  policy-making  forum  of  66  central  Orthodox  British  syna- 
gogues. Based  on  a  formula  drawn  up  by  Chief  Rabbi  Dr.  Jonathan  Sacks  in 
consultation  with  the  Bet  Din  (religious  court),  two  women  per  constituent  syna- 
gogue, appointed  or  elected  by  their  local  boards  of  management,  were  enabled  to 
join  the  council.  New  US  plans  announced  the  previous  February  also  foresaw 
reducing  the  council  in  1996  from  300  to  around  150  members,  split  equally  between 
men  and  women.  At  the  local  level,  synagogue  boards  of  management  would  elect 
nine  men  and  nine  women  (compared  with  the  previous  12  and  6,  respectively),  in 
addition  to  the  synagogue  officers,  though  men  would  retain  right  of  veto.  Syna- 
gogues would  have  five  officers,  including  an  elected  male  chairman  and  vice- 
chairman.  The  reforms  were  disappointing,  said  Sheila  Cohen,  chairwoman  of  the 
Association  of  US  Women. 

The  review  of  the  status  of  women  in  Anglo- Jewry,  the  first  practical  initiative 
of  Chief  Rabbi  Sacks's  "decade  of  renewal,"  was  published  in  June  1994.  It  found 
strong  consensus  that  women's  needs  had  been  ignored  for  too  long,  causing  them 
to  feel  marginalized  in  communal  and  religious  life,  especially  in  central  Orthodoxy. 
They  wanted  greater  participation  in  prayer  services  and  greater  spiritual  involve- 
ment through  study,  special  prayers,  and  rituals  to  mark  major  events  in  life.  Sacks 
named  Syma  Weinberg,  education  consultant  to  Jewish  Continuity,  as  special  ad- 
viser for  the  review's  overall  implementation  and  urged  all  communal  bodies  to 
investigate  means  to  carry  out  its  recommendations.  In  October  the  Board  of 
Deputies  established  a  standing  committee  on  women's  issues. 

The  review  was  based  on  a  statistical  survey  and  a  series  of  discussion  groups  with 
Jewish  women  nationwide,  conducted  by  the  Board  of  Deputies'  Community  Re- 
search Unit.  Of  the  1,350  respondents  to  the  survey,  of  whom  1,125  were  affiliated 
with  synagogues,  only  43  percent  of  US-affiliated  women  had  found  synagogues  that 
satisfied  their  needs.  This  compared  with  51  percent  of  Orthodox  women  outside 
the  US;  69  percent  of  Reform  women;  79  percent  of  Liberals;  and  81  percent  of 
Masorti  (Conservative).  The  survey's  findings  showed  a  gradual  shift  taking  place 
toward  the  left  of  the  religious  spectrum:  only  61  percent  of  the  daughters  of 
Orthodox  parents  belonged  to  Orthodox  synagogues. 

The  popularity  of  women-only  services  grew.  In  January  1994,  Manchester's 
Yeshurun  Synagogue  sanctioned  a  women's  prayer  group  on  the  Sabbath  in  a 
private  home,  provided  it  followed  the  chief  rabbi's  guidelines,  and  in  February, 
Pinner,  North- West  London,  held  its  first  women-only  Shabbat  service.  However, 
when  women-only  services  using  a  Torah  scroll  took  place  at  Yakar,  the  indepen- 
dent Orthodox  congregation  in  Hendon,  North-West  London,  in  March  and  Au- 

248      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

gust,  and  at  the  Limmud  education  conference  in  Oxford  in  December,  Rabbi  Sacks 
warned  that  use  of  a  Torah  scroll  by  women  could  "put  at  risk  the  entire  effort  to 
improve  the  position  of  women  in  accordance  with  the  principles  and  spirit  of  Jewish 

In  November  1994,  Fraybin  Gottlieb  was  appointed  assistant  registrar  to  the  Bet 
Din,  the  first  woman  to  hold  a  senior  post  in  that  body. 

The  Jewish  Women's  Network,  aiming  to  create  a  framework  for  dialogue  for 
women  throughout  the  community  and  to  improve  their  position  in  Jewish  life,  held 
its  first  annual  meeting  in  March  1995.  Since  its  beginning  in  January  1993,  it  had 
held  five  major  events  around  the  country,  said  newly  elected  chairwoman  Sharon 
Lee.  Membership  was  growing,  and  hundreds  of  women  were  participating  in 
debates,  study  sessions,  and  workshops. 

In  February  1 995  the  chief  rabbi  called  in  Dayan  Berel  Berkovits  of  the  Federa- 
tion of  Synagogues  to  work  out  a  new  draft  of  the  prenuptial  agreement  (PNA).  This 
had  been  proposed  by  Sacks  in  1993  to  prevent  Orthodox  women  being  trapped  in 
failed  marriages  when  husbands  refused  to  give  them  a  religious  divorce  (get). 
However,  questions  regarding  the  document's  practicality  and  halakhic  (Jewish 
legal)  validity  had  delayed  implementation. 


The  United  Synagogue  continued  to  make  structural  changes,  implementing  the 
recommendations  of  the  1992  Kalms  Report.  Among  other  changes,  it  set  up  an 
Agency  for  Jewish  Education  to  replace  its  own  education  department,  so  as  to 
reduce  the  US  head  office's  role.  An  independent,  self-financing  Orthodox  body,  the 
new  agency  would  conduct  teacher  training,  carry  out  inspections,  and  produce 
educational  material.  The  agency  began  functioning  in  January  1995. 

During  much  of  1994  the  US  grappled  with  financial  problems:  in  March  it 
announced  that  it  owed  £8  million  to  its  banks,  mostly  due  for  repayment  within 
three  years.  In  June  seven  synagogues  were  named  as  having  had  "chronic  deficits" 
in  1993:  Cricklewood,  Dollis  Hill,  Finsbury  Park,  Hackney  and  East  London,  South 
Tottenham,  South- West  London,  and  West  Ham.  Four  others  presented  "the  most 
difficult  situation,"  requiring  "special  action":  Edgware,  Finchley,  Ilford,  and  Rich- 
mond. In  October  Edmonton  and  Tottenham  Synagogue  closed  due  to  declining 
numbers.  In  December  Finsbury  Park  Synagogue  was  sold  to  a  right-wing  Orthodox 
nursery;  male  membership  had  declined  from  700  in  1970  to  130,  61  percent  of 
whom  were  over  71,  and  41  percent  over  76.  This,  said  US  treasurer  Leslie  Elstein, 
was  the  path  the  US  had  to  take,  realizing  assets  from  declining  congregations  and 
making  them  available  for  new  communities.  In  April  1995,  Dollis  Hill  Synagogue 
closed,  following  its  sale  in  February  to  the  North  Finchley  Torah  Temimah  pri- 
mary school;  membership  had  fallen  from  a  peak  of  600  families  to  some  300,  half 
of  whom  were  over  70. 

In  September  Environment  Secretary  John  Gummer  ended  three  years  of  public 

GREAT    BRITAIN      /     249 

debate  by  agreeing  to  establish  the  British  community's  first  eruv — a  symboHc 
boundary  designed  to  permit  Orthodox  Jews  to  carry  on  the  Sabbath — in  North- 
west London.  In  January  1995  there  were  calls  for  a  judicial  review  of  the  eruv 

On  the  death  of  the  Lubavitcher  Rebbe  in  Brooklyn  in  September  1994,  Prime 
Minister  John  Major  sent  the  Lubavitch  Foundation  a  message  commiserating  on 
its  loss  of  "an  inspirational,  and  perhaps  irreplaceable"  leader.  A  £5-million  fund 
was  set  up  in  the  Rebbe's  name  to  further  his  work  in  Britain,  and  Chief  Rabbi  Sacks 
gave  the  inaugural  Lubavitcher  Rebbe  Memorial  Lecture. 

In  October,  Shmuel  Boteach  resigned  as  Lubavitch  rabbi  in  Oxford  after  being 
suspended  by  the  Lubavitch  Foundation  in  Britain  for  his  refusal  to  withdraw  an 
invitation  to  Israeli  prime  minister  Yitzhak  Rabin  to  speak  to  his  L'Chaim  Society, 
which  Boteach  continued  to  head. 

In  November  1994  leading  Orthodox  rabbis  in  Manchester,  alarmed  at  the  spread 
of  the  Masorti  movement  to  northern  England,  pledged  action  to  prevent  a  congre- 
gation being  established  in  the  city.  Masorti  services  were  held  in  Bradford  in 
January  1995  (the  first  in  northern  England)  and  in  Manchester  in  March. 

In  December  1994  the  Office  of  the  Chief  Rabbi  made  it  clear  that  it  did  not  accept 
as  valid  any  conversion  or  marriage  conducted  under  Masorti  auspices.  Rabbi  Dr. 
Julian  Shindler,  director  of  the  marriage  authorization  department,  told  the  Jewish 
Chronicle  that  he  issued  the  clarification  because  of  claims  to  the  contrary  by  the 
Masorti  movement,  following  the  Manchester  controversy.  In  January  1995  Chief 
Rabbi  Sacks  aroused  considerable  discussion  when  he  described  the  Masorti  move- 
ment as  intellectual  "thieves"  posing  a  danger  to  the  future  of  British  Jewry.  Writing 
in  the  right-wing  Orthodox  Jewish  Tribune ,  he  accused  Masorti  of  making  "mislead- 
ing" claims  to  being  Orthodox  and  stated  that  anyone  not  believing  that  the  Torah 
was  dictated  by  God  to  Moses  had  "severed  links  with  the  faith  of  his  ancestors." 

The  ensuing  outcry  from  the  Jewish  public  and  many  communal  organizations 
partially  abated  after  Sacks  wrote  in  the  Jewish  Chronicle  that,  while  resolute  in  his 
support  of  an  Orthodox  Jewry  firm  in  its  faith  and  practice,  he  was  equally  commit- 
ted to  "tolerance,  warmth  and  intellectual  openness."  Speaking  at  the  February 
1995  opening  of  the  US's  125th  anniversary  celebrations.  Sacks  said,  "The  successes 
of  the  US  represent  one  of  the  greatest  achievements  of  modern  Jewish  life,"  and 
warned  that  those  representing  "less  traditional  alternatives"  threatened  to  turn 
Britain  into  the  fragmented  community  seen  in  America. 

In  February  1995,  police  were  called  when  ultra-Orthodox  Jews  protested  at 
Manchester's  Jewish  cultural  center,  claiming  that  the  speaker,  the  chief  rabbi  of 
Efrat,  Israel,  Shlomo  Riskin,  was  a  "heretic." 

The  Reform  Synagogues  of  Great  Britain  published  a  Calendar  of  Torah  and 
Haftarah  Readings,  5755-5757,  and  a  new  Pilgrim  Festivals  Machzor;  the  Union 
of  Liberal  and  Progressive  Synagogues  issued  a  new  prayer  book,  Siddur  Lev  Ha- 

250      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 


In  July  1994,  Jewish  Continuity — Chief  Rabbi  Sacks's  fund-raising  plan  for 
Jewish  education — announced  a  partnership  with  the  Joint  Israel  Appeal  (JIA), 
British  Jewry's  central  fund-raising  organization,  which  pledged  at  least  £12  million 
to  Continuity  over  the  ensuing  three  years.  Said  JIA  president  Sir  Trevor  Chinn, 
"JIA  has  always  been  involved  in  saving  Jewish  lives  and  in  the  social  development 
of  Israel  and  will  continue  to  do  so.  But  you  can  not  look  at  the  national  priorities 
of  the  Jewish  people  today  without  recognizing  that  Jewish  continuity  in  the  dias- 
pora is  a  major  element."  In  September  the  chairman  of  the  Jewish  Agency,  through 
which  JIA  funding  for  Israel  is  channeled,  sharply  criticized  the  agreement  with 
Continuity,  stating  that  this  "unilateral,  almost  secretive  decision  breaks  the  rules 
of  the  partnership  between  us."  Agency  officials  were  particularly  concerned  about 
whether  donations  to  Israel  would  suffer. 

In  February  1995,  Continuity  gave  £250,000,  its  largest  single  grant,  for  Israel 
programs  for  Anglo-Jewish  youth,  supplementing  JIA's  own  contribution  of 
£500,000  to  Zionist  youth  programs. 

Fears  that  Chief  Rabbi  Sacks's  remarks  about  the  non-Orthodox  would  affect  the 
policy  of  Jewish  Continuity  were  partially  allayed  in  January  1995  when  chairman 
Dr.  Michael  Sinclair  confirmed  that  Continuity  remained  a  "community-wide" 
initiative.  Continuity  grants  in  April  1995,  in  fact,  included  £26,000  to  the  new 
Masorti  Academy,  £23,000  to  Leo  Baeck  College,  the  Progressive  rabbinical  train- 
ing institute,  and  £18,200  to  the  Union  of  Liberal  and  Progressive  Synagogues.  The 
safeguard  for  this  even-handed  policy  was  the  Independent  Allocations  Board, 
which  Continuity  set  up  specifically  to  reassure  the  Progressive  section  in  May  1994. 

In  June  1994  it  was  announced  that  Rabbi  Dr.  Daniel  Sinclair  would  succeed 
Rabbi  Dr.  Irving  Jacobs  as  principal  of  Jews  College.  In  August  the  Masorti  move- 
ment launched  the  Masorti  Academy,  an  institution  for  training  rabbis  for  the 
movement  as  well  as  offering  an  adult  education  course  leading  to  a  diploma  In 
December  the  British  Sephardic  community  decided  to  establish  a  seminary  to  train 
future  Sephardic  rabbis,  naming  Dayan  Dr.  Pinchas  Toledano,  Av  Bet  Din  of  the 
Sephardic  congregation,  as  principal. 

At  secular  institutions,  the  Centre  for  Modem  Hebrew  Studies  was  established 
at  Cambridge  University  in  February  1994.  In  March  the  Stanley  Burton  Centre  for 
Holocaust  Studies  was  founded  at  Leicester  University.  In  May  Oxford  University 
announced  that  it  would  offer  a  B.A.  in  Jewish  studies.  In  July  Rabbi  Dr.  Norman 
Solomon,  director  of  Birmingham's  Centre  for  the  Study  of  Judaism  and  Jewish- 
Christian  Relations,  was  retrenched  due  to  a  funding  crisis.  In  January  1995,  Prof. 
Philip  Alexander  resigned  as  president  of  Oxford's  Centre  for  Hebrew  Studies 
(OCHS).  A  six-month  dispute  over  the  autonomy  and  financing  of  Yiddish  studies 
at  OCHS  ended  in  April  1995  with  the  resignation  of  leading  Yiddishist  Dovid  Katz, 
who  became  director  of  research  of  a  new  Oxford  Institute  for  Yiddish  Studies, 
which  he  had  launched  in  October  1994. 

GREAT    BRITAIN      /      251 


The  European  Jewish  Publication  Society  was  established  in  London  in  February 
1995,  its  aim  to  subsidize  the  publication  of  manuscripts  on  subjects  of  Jewish 
literary,  educational,  or  historic  interest  that  might  not  be  taken  up  by  commercial 

South  African-bom  Ronald  Harwood  received  the  1994  Jewish  Quarterly  Prize 
for  fiction  for  his  novel  Home;  the  nonaction  award  went  to  Leo  Abse  for  fVotan 
My  Enemy,  a  psychoanalysis  of  Germany  and  the  Germans;  the  poetry  prize  was 
awarded  to  Ron  Taylor  for  an  unpublished  poem,  "The  White  Jew  of  Cochin." 

New  literary  studies  included  Tradition  and  Trauma:  Studies  in  the  Fiction  ofS.J. 
Agnon,  edited  by  David  Patterson  and  Glenda  Abramson;  and  Construction  of  "the 
Jew"  in  English  Literature  and  Society  by  Bryan  Cheyette. 

New  works  on  local  British  history  were  London  Jews  and  British  Communism, 
1935-1945  by  Henry  Felix  Srebnik;  Uniting  the  Tailors:  Trade  Unionism  Amongst 
the  Tailors  of  London  andLeeds,  1870-1939  by  Anne  J.  Kershen;  The  Northampton 
Jewish  Cemetery  by  Michael  Jolles;  A  Documentary  History  of  Jewish  Immigrants 
in  Britain,  1840-1920,  edited  by  David  Englander;  The  Jewish  East  End:  Then  and 
Now  by  Aumie  and  Michael  Shapiro;  Living  Up  West:  Jewish  Life  in  London  '5  West 
End  by  Gerry  Black;  The  Jewish  Chronicle  and  Anglo-Jewry,  1841-1991  by  David 
Cesarani;  Minerva  or  Fried  Fish  in  a  Sponge  Bag:  The  Story  of  a  Boarding  School 
for  Jewish  Girls,  edited  by  Zo  Josephs;  A  Good  Jew  and  a  Good  Englishman:  The 
Jewish  Lads' and  Girls' Brigade,  1895-1995  by  Sharman  Kadish;  and  We're  Not  All 
Rothschilds,  Leila  Abrahams'  account  of  Brighton  and  Hove  Jewry. 

The  plethora  of  works  inspired  by  the  Middle  East  peace  process  included  Gaza 
First:  The  Secret  Norway  Channel  to  Peace  Between  Israel  and  the  PLO  by  Jane 
Corbin;  From  War  to  Peace:  Arab-Israeli  Relations,  1973-1993,  edited  by  Barry 
Rubin,  Joseph  Ginat,  and  Moshe  Maoz;  1948  and  After:  Israel  and  the  Palestinians 
by  Benny  Morris;  Handshake  in  Washington:  The  Beginning  of  Middle  East  Peace? 
by  John  King;  two  books  by  Shimon  Peres:  Battling  for  Peace  and  The  New  Middle 
East;  and  Building  Bridges:  The  Arab-Israeli  Multilateral  Talks  by  Joel  Peters,  who, 
with  Keith  Kyle,  also  edited  Whither  Israel?;  and  Israel  at  the  Crossroads:  The 
Challenge  of  Peace,  edited  by  Efraim  Karsh  and  Gregory  Mahler.  Karsh  also  edited 
a  new  quarterly  journal,  Israel  Affairs,  which  first  appeared  in  autumn  1994. 

Books  about  Israel  included  The  Gates  of  Gaza:  Israel's  Road  to  Suez  and  Back, 
1955-1957  by  Mordechai  Bar-On;  Press  and  Politics  in  Israel  by  former  Jerusalem 
Post  editor  Erwin  Frenkel;  and  The  Supreme  Court  Building  Jerusalem  by  Yosef 
Sharon.  Major  works  on  political  themes  were  Democracy  and  Arab  Political  Cul- 
ture by  Elie  Kedourie  and  On  Modern  Jewish  Politics  by  Ezra  Mendelsohn. 

Three  Yiddish  works  were  published  by  Three  Sisters  Yiddish  Press:  DreiShvester 
(Three  Sisters)  by  Menke  Katz;  Der  Flacher  Shpitz  (Flat  Peak)  by  Heershdovid 
Menkes  (alias  Dovid  Katz);  and  Moscover  Purim  Shpielen  (Moscow  Purim  Plays) 
by  Gennady  Estraikh. 

252      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

Holocaust  literature  contained  several  books  concerning  Poland,  such  as  Did  the 
Children  Cry?  by  Richard  Lukas,  an  account  of  the  sufferings  inflicted  on  Polish 
children  by  the  German  invaders;  A  Survivor's  Saga  by  Richard  Stem;  and  Konin: 
A  Quest  by  Theo  Richmond.  Other  new  works  touching  on  the  Holocaust  were 
Crimes  of  War  by  Roger  Hutchinson,  detailing  the  libel  case  alleged  Nazi  war 
criminal  Antanas  Gecas  brought  against  Scottish  Television;  Rescuers  of  Jews  Dur- 
ing the  Holocaust  by  Eva  Fogelman;  Auschwitz  and  After:  Race,  Culture  and  "the 
Jewish  Question"  in  France,  edited  by  Lawrence  D.  Kritzman;  A  Cat  Called  Adolf 
by  Trude  Levi;  The  Holocaust  and  the  Liberal  Imagination  by  Tony  Kushner,  a 
history  of  the  British  and  U.S.  governments'  responses  to  the  Holocaust;  The  Final 
Solution:  Origins  and  Implementation ,  edited  by  David  Cesarani;  and  Weekend  in 
Munich,  Robert  Wistrich's  analysis  of  the  manipulation  of  the  arts  to  political  ends 
in  the  Third  Reich. 

New  and  noteworthy  works  of  fiction  included  Kolymsky  Heights  by  Lionel 
Davidson;  The  Marble  Kiss  by  Jay  Rayner;  The  Stamp  Collector  by  David  Benedic- 
tus;  The  Far  Side  of  Desire  by  Ralph  Glasser;  Moo  Park  by  Gabriel  Josipovici;  Dr. 
Clock  '5  Last  Case  by  Ruth  Fainlight;  and  Dreamers  by  Elaine  Feinstein,  who  also 
published  Selected  Poems.  Two  books  of  short  stories  were  Amy  Bloom's  Come  to 
Me  and  Frederic  Raphael's  The  Latin  Lover  and  Other  Stories.  Gabriel's  Palace: 
Jewish  Mystical  Tales  and  Elijah 's  Violin  and  Other  Jewish  Fairy  Tales  by  Howard 
Schwartz,  and  Broken  Bridge  by  Lynne  Reid  Banks  aimed  at  a  younger  readership. 

Poetry  published  during  the  period  included  Wordsounds  and  Sightlines  by  Mi- 
chael Horovitz;  You  Are,  Aren't  You  by  Michael  Rosen;  Treasury  of  Jewish  Low. 
Poems,  Quotations  and  Proverbs  by  David  C.  Gross;  A  Weekly  Scotsman  by  David 
Daiches;  Voices  from  the  Dolls'  House  by  Adele  Geras;  Hebrew  Poems  by  David 
Prashker.  Translated  verse  was  represented  by  Flowers  of  Perhaps:  Selected  Poem 
of  Ra'hel,  translated  by  Robert  Friend;  and  Modern  Poetry  in  Translation,  edited 
by  Daniel  Weissbort. 

Progressive  rabbi  Sidney  Brichto  published  Funny  .  .  .  You  Don 't  Look  Jewish: 
A  Guide  to  Jews  and  Jewish  Life.  Works  on  religious  subjects  were  Moses  of  Oxford 
by  Shmuel  Boteach;  and  Faith  in  the  Future  and  Will  We  Have  Jewish  Grandchil- 
dren? Jewish  Continuity  and  How  to  Achieve  It  by  Chief  Rabbi  Jonathan  Sacks. 

Works  on  the  arts  included  Music  in  the  Jewish  Community  of  Palestine,  1880- 
1948  by  Jehoash  Hirshberg. 

Biographical  and  autobiographical  studies  included  Sacred  Games  by  Gerald 
Jacobs,  a  biography  of  Hungarian  Jew  Miklos  Hammer;  Fromental  Halevy  by  Ruth 
Jordan;  Isaiah  Berlin  by  John  Gray;  and  Berlin's  own  work.  The  Magus  of  the 
North ,  an  introduction  to  the  work  of  1 8th-century  German  thinker  Johann  Georg 
Hamann;  A  Lesser  Child  by  Karen  Gershon;  Troublesome  Boy  by  Harold  Rosen; 
Summing  Up:  An  Autobiography  by  Yitzhak  Shamir;  A  Giant  Among  Giants,  in 
which  Samuel  C.  Melnick  tells  the  story  of  his  grandfather.  Rabbi  Shmuel  Kalman 
Melnick;  Overview,  a  collection  of  occasional  writings  by  Steven  Berkoif;  Remem- 
bering My  Good  Friends  by  George  Weidenfeld;  As  Much  as  I  Dare  by  Arnold 

GREAT    BRITAIN      /      253 

Wesker;  Intermittent  Journals  by  Dannie  Abse;  and  The  Electronic  Elephant:  A 
Southern  African  Journey  by  Dan  Jacobson. 

Two  anthropological  works  were  Jewish  Identities  in  the  New  Europe,  edited  by 
Jonathan  Webber;  and  Eat  and  Be  Satisfied:  A  Social  History  of  Jewish  Food  by  John 


Knighthoods  went  to  Leslie  Tumberg,  professor  of  medicine  at  Manchester  Uni- 
versity and  president  of  the  Royal  College  of  Physicians,  for  services  to  medicine; 
and  Hans  Singer,  emeritus  professor  at  Sussex  University,  for  his  contribution  to 
economics.  Nobel  Prize  winner  Cesar  Milstein,  deputy  director  of  Cambridge  Medi- 
cal Research  Council's  laboratory,  was  made  a  Companion  of  Honor. 

Among  British  Jews  who  died  in  1994  were  Jack  Brenner,  secretary  of  the  London 
Board  for  Shechitah  and  National  Shechitah  Council  from  1948  to  1977,  in  January, 
aged  86;  Jon  Kimche,  journalist  and  Middle  East  expert,  in  March,  aged  83;  Nakdi- 
mon  Doniach,  Hebrew  scholar,  in  April,  in  Oxford,  aged  89;  Harry  Farbey,  AJEX 
general  secretary,  in  April,  in  London,  aged  72;  Rudi  Friedmann,  communal  worker 
and  Zionist  civil  servant,  in  April,  in  London,  aged  81;  Clive  Labovitch,  Jewish 
communal  worker  and  publisher,  in  April,  aged  61;  Alec  Nove,  Soviet  scholar,  in 
May,  aged  78;  Julius  Emmanuel,  prominent  in  "In  Manchester"  Jewish  theater,  in 
May,  in  Manchester,  aged  78;  Monty  Modlyn,  media  personality  and  charity 
worker,  in  May,  aged  72;  Sidney  Somper,  Jewish  educator,  in  June,  aged  85;  Stanley 
Segal,  Jewish  educator  specializing  in  children  with  special  needs,  in  June,  aged  74; 
Shmuel  Pinter,  principal,  London's  Yesodey  Hatorah  schools  for  40  years,  in  June, 
in  London,  aged  75;  David  Lewis,  Oxford  University  professor  of  ancient  history 
and  Oxford  communal  figure,  in  July,  in  Oxford,  aged  66;  Elsie  Lady  Janner, 
oustanding  Jewish  communal  worker,  in  July,  in  London,  aged  88;  Bernard,  Lord 
Delfont  of  Stepney,  one  of  the  three  Winogradsky  (Grade)  brothers  powerful  in  the 
entertainment  business,  in  July,  in  Angmering,  Sussex,  aged  84;  Frank  Muller, 
Institute  of  Jewish  Affairs  librarian  for  25  years,  in  August,  in  London,  aged  80; 
Rabbi  Isaac  Bernstein,  controversial  minister  of  Finchley  Synagogue,  in  August,  in 
London,  aged  54;  Elias  Canetti,  Nobel  Prize  winner  in  literature  (1981),  in  August, 
in  Zurich,  aged  89;  Chaim  Raphael,  Jewish  historian,  author  of  mystery  stories 
under  the  nom  de  plume  Jocelyn  Davey,  and  former  treasury  spokesman,  in  Octo- 
ber, in  London,  aged  86;  Mary  Mikardo,  active  socialist  and  Zionist,  in  October, 
in  Manchester,  aged  88;  Marjorie  Moos,  Progressive  Hebrew  teacher,  in  November, 
in  London,  aged  100;  Julian  Symons,  crime  writer,  in  November,  aged  82;  Me- 
shulam  Aschkenazi,  Hassidic  rabbi,  in  November,  in  London,  aged  92;  Haskell 
Isaacs,  medical  doctor  and  oriental  scholar,  in  November,  in  Cambridge,  aged  80; 
Keith,  Lord  Joseph,  former  Conservative  cabinet  minister,  in  December,  in  London, 
aged  76. 

British  Jews  who  died  in  the  first  six  months  of  1995  included  Lord  Kagan, 

254      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

clothing  manufacturer  and  friend  of  former  prime  minister,  Harold  Wilson,  in 
January,  in  London,  aged  79;  Harry  Golombek,  international  chess  expert,  in  Janu- 
ary, in  London,  aged  83;  Joseph  Grizzard,  journalist,  in  January,  in  London,  aged 
73;  Sam  Goldsmith,  London  editor  of  the  Jewish  Telegraphic  Agency,  1958-75,  in 
January,  in  London,  aged  84;  Miriam  Karalova,  Yiddish  theater  leading  lady,  in 
February,  in  London,  aged  92;  Bernard  Olivestone,  Federation  of  Synagogues 
staunch  supporter,  in  March,  aged  9 1 ;  Salli  Kesten,  founder  of  the  Judaica  Philatelic 
Society,  in  March,  in  London,  aged  84;  Dorothy  Stone,  communal  personality,  in 
March,  in  London,  aged  86;  Sydney  Simone,  bandleader,  in  March,  in  London,  aged 
8 1 ;  Jacob  Weingreen,  Hebrew  scholar  and  grammarian,  in  April,  in  Dublin,  aged 
87;  Arnold  Abraham,  Lord  Goodman,  British  public  servant  and  active  patron  of 
Jewish  causes  and  Israel,  in  May,  in  London,  aged  8 1 ;  Nathan  Rubin,  former  United 
Synagogue  secretary,  in  May,  in  Guernsey,  aged  74;  Harold  Berens,  comedian,  in 
May,  in  London,  aged  92. 

Miriam  &  Lionel  Kochan 

The  Netherlands 

National  Affairs 

X  HE  PERIOD  UNDER  REVIEW — 1994  and  the  first  half  of  1995 — en- 
compassed significant  local  and  national  elections  and  the  50th  anniversary  of  the 
liberation  of  Holland  from  German  occupation  in  World  War  II. 

The  elections  for  the  Municipal  Councils  on  March  12,  1994,  revealed  the  declin- 
ing popularity  of  both  Labor  (PvdA)  and  the  Christian  Democrats  (CD  A),  partners 
in  the  government's  ruling  coalition  for  the  previous  four  years.  This  trend  was 
confirmed  in  the  elections  for  the  Second  Chamber  of  Parliament  on  May  8,  in  which 
both  Labor  and  the  CDA  lost  considerably.  Labor  dropping  from  49  to  37  seats, 
and  the  CDA  from  54  to  34  seats,  thus  losing  its  place  as  the  largest  party.  The 
center-left  D'66  gained  spectacularly,  going  from  12  to  24  seats,  and  the  center-right 
Liberals  (WD)  from  12  to  21  seats.  The  extreme  right-wing  Centrum  Democrats 
went  from  one  to  three  seats,  and  the  more  extreme-right  C'86  got  no  seats  at  all. 

With  CDA  and  PvdA  no  longer  holding  a  majority  in  the  Second  Chamber,  a 
new  coaHtion  was  formed,  this  time  of  PvdA,  D'66,  and  the  WD,  with  former 
Labor  deputy  prime  minister  Willem  Kok  succeeding  Ruud  Lubbers  (CDA)  as 
premier,  and  Hans  van  Mierlo  of  D'66  as  deputy  prime  minister  and  foreign  minis- 
ter. The  composition  of  the  new  government  was  rather  surprising,  since  the  views 
of  Labor  and  the  WD  on  social  issues  had  always  been  diametrically  opposed. 
Although  the  PvdA  and  D'66's  campaign  slogans  called  for  change,  in  fact  the 
policies  of  the  new  government  were  very  similar  to  those  of  the  previous  one. 

Three  members  of  the  new  Second  Chamber,  of  different  parties,  were  born  to  two 
Jewish  parents,  but  did  not  stress  their  Jewish  identity.  The  new  cabinet  had  no 
members  of  Jewish  origin. 

A  lamentable  event  was  the  disappearance  from  political  life  of  Ed  van  Thijn,  a 
Jew,  who  had  been  a  Labor  interior  minister  in  1981-82,  parliamentary  Labor 
chairman  in  1982-83,  and  mayor  of  Amsterdam  since  1983,  a  position  he  greatly 
loved.  When  the  then  Labor  minister  of  the  interior  died  unexpectedly  in  January 
1994,  Labor  leader  Willem  Kok  urged  Van  Thijn  to  succeed  her  and  to  give  up  his 
position  as  Amsterdam's  mayor.  Van  Thijn  acceded  to  this  appeal,  but  in  May  1994, 
after  the  parliamentary  elections,  he  and  the  minister  of  justice  had  to  resign  in 
connection  with  an  alleged  scandal  in  the  Amsterdam  police  for  which  both  men 
were  held  ultimately  responsible.  In  the  meantime,  someone  else  had  been  appointed 
mayor  of  Amsterdam,  and  Van  Thijn  was  not  included  by  Kok  in  his  new  cabinet. 

The  economy  in  general  showed  favorable  growth,  with  low  inflation,  though 
unemployment  remained  high,  particularly  among  new  immigrants. 


256      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

The  arrival  of  persons  from  Third  World  countries  seeking  political  asylum  in 
Holland  continued  unabated,  in  particular  after  July  1994,  when  Germany,  Bel- 
gium, and  France  made  admission  to  those  countries  more  difficult. 

V-E  Day  Anniversary 

Plans  for  commemorating  the  end  of  World  War  II  in  May  1945  engendered 
debate  over  a  role  for  Germany  in  the  events.  Fifty  years  after  the  end  of  the  war, 
relations  between  the  Netherlands  and  Germany  were  still  problematic.  Public- 
opinion  polls  showed  that  prejudice  against  Germans  was  prevalent  even  among 
young  people  and  their  parents  bom  after  1945.  At  the  same  time,  Germany  was 
the  main  trading  partner  of  the  Netherlands. 

In  the  end,  German  representatives  were  not  invited  to  the  memorial  for  the  war 
dead  on  May  4,  1995,  nor  to  the  celebration  of  liberation  on  May  5,  but  were  invited 
to  an  international  symposium  in  The  Hague  on  the  future  of  Europe,  on  May  8. 

German  chancellor  Helmut  Kohl  paid  an  official  visit  to  Holland  on  May  22- 
23,  1995,  primarily  to  Rotterdam,  whose  center  had  been  destroyed  by  German 
Luftwaffe  bombardment  on  May  13,  1940.  In  his  address  at  the  Erasmus  University 
in  Rotterdam,  he  called  the  bombing  a  crime,  as  was  the  entire  war  unleashed  by 
Hitler;  he  also  mentioned  the  Jewish  victims  of  the  Nazis  in  Holland. 

Numerous  events  marked  the  50th  anniversary  of  the  liberation  of  the  Nether- 
lands from  Nazi  occupation — ceremonies,  exhibitions,  symposia,  a  large  number  of 
books  (most  of  them  in  Dutch),  plays,  TV  and  radio  documentaries,  and  the  like, 
Some  dealt  with  local  history,  others  with  such  aspects  of  the  occupation  as  resist- 
ance, hiding,  collaboration,  Nazi  reprisals,  and  various  battles. 

Many  commemorative  events  paid  special  attention  to  the  fate  of  the  Jews,  80 
percent  of  whom — over  102,000 — perished  at  the  hands  of  the  Nazis.  One  of  the 
themes  dealt  with  was  the  inadequate  help  given  by  the  large  majority  of  the  Dutch 
people.  This  point  was  stressed  by  Queen  Beatrix  in  her  official  address  in  The  Hague 
on  May  5,  as  it  was  in  her  address  in  the  Knesset  in  Jerusalem  on  March  28.  In  her 
speech  on  May  5  she  said,  inter  aha:  "In  remembering  the  Second  World  War,  a 
particular  feeling  of  shame  befits  us  that  we  did  not  do  more  for  our  Jewish  fellow- 
citizens."  (See  more  about  her  address  in  the  Knesset,  below.)  Another  theme 
presented  in  many  documentaries  and  programs  was  the  hostility,  or  at  least  indiffer- 
ence, with  which  many  of  the  survivors  were  met  after  their  return  from  the  camps 
or  from  hiding,  and  the  difficulties  they  had  regaining  their  possessions  and  prop- 

The  Netherlands  State  Institute  for  War  Documentation,  RIOD,  held  an  interna- 
tional symposium  in  Amsterdam,  April  26-28,  1995,  on  "Memory  and  the  Second 
World  War  in  Comparative  Perspective,"  with  the  participation  of  several  scholars 
from  abroad. 

(See  also  "Holocaust  Commemoration,"  below.) 

THE    NETHERLANDS      /      257 

Israel  and  the  Middle  East 

Queen  Beatrix  and  Prince-Consort  Claus  paid  an  official  three-day  visit  to  Israel, 
March  27-29,  1995,  after  having  made  a  similar  visit  to  Jordan  in  December  1994. 
This  was  the  first  official  visit  by  a  Dutch  royal  couple  to  Israel.  Beatrix  and  Claus 
had  visited  when  she  was  still  crown  princess,  and  her  mother,  Juliana,  had  visited 
when  she  was  no  longer  queen,  with  her  husband,  Bemhard.  But  in  view  of  the 
hostile  relations  between  Israel  and  the  Arab  world,  successive  Dutch  governments 
had  thought  it  inadvisable  for  a  Dutch  head  of  state  to  visit  Israel.  After  the  signing 
of  the  Oslo  agreement  between  Israel  and  the  PLO,  the  objections  vanished. 

The  highlight  of  the  visit  was  Beatrix's  address  to  the  Knesset,  which  was  simulta- 
neously broadcast  in  full  on  Dutch  TV.  Referring  to  the  fact  that  the  large  majority 
of  the  Jews  of  Holland  had  perished  during  World  War  II,  she  acknowledged  that, 
while  many  Dutch  non-Jews  had  tried  to  save  Jews  at  the  risk  of  their  own  lives, 
they  were  the  exception  rather  than  the  rule.  (This  was  intended  to  debunk  the  myth 
still  current  among  Israelis  and  others  that  nearly  the  entire  Dutch  population  had 
helped  to  save  the  Jews.)  The  same  observation  was  made  by  Shevach  Weiss,  the 
Knesset  chairman,  in  his  welcoming  address,  and  had  been  made  the  night  before 
by  President  Ezer  Weizmann  at  the  official  dinner  for  the  royal  pair. 

In  what  was  described  as  a  private  visit,  Beatrix  and  Claus,  at  their  explicit  wish, 
toured  the  holy  places  in  the  Old  City  of  Jerusalem — the  Church  of  the  Holy 
Sepulchre,  the  Al  Aqsa  Mosque,  and  the  Western  Wall.  At  the  same  time,  Dutch 
foreign  minister  Hans  van  Mierlo,  who  accompanied  the  royal  couple  during  the 
official  part  of  the  trip,  visited  Yasir  Arafat  in  Gaza  and  later  met  with  Faisal 
Husseini  in  Jerusalem.  The  latter  had  wanted  the  meeting  to  take  place  in  Orient 
House — thePLO's  headquarters — but  the  Israeli  authorities  objected.  The  meeting 
took  place  at  the  private  residence  of  the  Dutch  representative  to  Jericho,  who 
resides  in  Abu  Tor,  on  the  border  between  west  and  east  Jerusalem. 

The  Netherlands  Department  for  Development  Aid  to  Third  World  countries 
paid  for  20  Palestinian  policemen  from  the  Gaza  Strip  to  undergo  training  in 
Holland  in  peaceful  methods  of  riot  control.  It  also  donated  Fl.  6  million  for  their 
maintenance  in  the  Gaza  Strip,  as  well  as  Fl.  6  million  for  the  Palestinian  Authority 
and  Fl.  1  million  for  Palestinian  universities,  primarily  Bir  Zeit  in  the  West  Bank. 

PLO  head  Yasir  Arafat  visited  Holland  on  February  17-18,  1994,  primarily  to 
meet  with  Nelson  Mandela,  who  was  in  Holland  on  an  official  visit.  Arafat  visited 
Prime  Minister  Lubbers,  whom  he  asked  to  mediate  between  Israel  and  the  PLO, 
and  addressed  a  meeting  of  Dutch  industrialists,  whom  he  asked  to  invest  in  the 
autonomous  areas. 

The  commission  of  the  Netherlands  Aviation  Council  (RLD)  investigating  the 
cause  or  causes  of  the  disaster  in  which  an  El  Al  Boeing  747  cargo  aircraft  crashed 
over  the  Bijlmer  District  of  southeast  Amsterdam  on  October  4,  1992,  published  its 
conclusions  on  February  24,  1995.  The  main  cause,  it  found,  was  the  breaking  off 
of  engine  number  3,  which  in  turn  dragged  with  it  engine  number  4.  Israel  was 

258      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

satisfied  with  this  conclusion.  Boeing  took  full  responsibihty;  43  persons  had  lost 
their  lives  (including  four  Israehs — three  crew  members  and  a  passenger)  and  four 
had  been  seriously  wounded.  Boeing  paid  damages,  some  extremely  high,  to  600 
claimants,  many  of  them  recent  immigrants.  A  Dutch  joumahst,  Vincent  Dekker, 
who  had  followed  the  disaster  from  the  beginning,  pubhshed  a  book  titled  Going 
Down,  Going  Down  — the  last  words  of  El  Al  pilot  Yitzhak  Fuchs  before  crashing 
— in  which  he  accused  El  Al  of  hiding  part  of  the  truth. 

At  the  end  of  April  1995,  the  Netherlands  ended  its  participation  in  the  Multina- 
tional Force  of  Observers  in  the  Sinai,  which  it  had  maintained  since  1982  with 
communications  personnel  and  mihtary  pohce.  During  these  13  years,  some  2,400 
Dutchmen  had  served  in  Sinai. 

Anti-Semitism  and  Extremism 

The  extreme  right,  as  represented  by  the  Center  Democrats  (CD),  CP'86,  and  the 
Nederland  Volksfront — the  latter  two  spht-offs  of  the  CD — were,  as  shown  by  the 
above-mentioned  election  results,  relatively  unimportant  and  far  less  influential  than 
the  Front  National  in  France  and  the  Volksfront  of  Fihp  Dewinter  in  Belgium.  The 
CP'86,  which  was  much  more  extreme  than  the  CD,  tried  to  stir  up  anti-immigrant 
sentiment  through  street  demonstrations  and  marches.  In  May  1995,  the  Hague 
district  court  sentenced  five  members  of  the  executive  of  CP'86  to  fines  of  Fl.  10,000 
each  for  racial  discrimination  and  inciting  xenophobia,  but  did  not  ban  the  party 
as  such. 

No  serious  cases  of  anti-Semitism  occurred  during  the  period  under  review. 
Neither  the  STIBA  (Foundation  for  Combating  Anti-Semitism)  nor  the  CIDI  (Cen- 
ter for  Information  and  Documentation  on  Israel),  which  was  also  concerned  with 
anti-Semitism,  found  much  occasion  for  taking  action. 

Considerable  attention  was  paid  to  a  controversial  book  by  Evelien  Gans,  Goyish 
Envy,  Jewish  Narcissism.  Gans,  a  woman  of  Jewish  origins  with  strong  left-wing 
leanings  who  had  recently  regained  interest  in  her  Jewish  roots,  charged  that  there 
was  considerable  anti-Semitism  in  Holland,  largely  inspired  by  non-Jewish  envy  of 
Jews  enjoying  and  exploiting  their  status  as  victims.  A  large  part  of  her  book  was 
devoted  to  the  columnist  Theo  van  Gogh,  whose  writings  in  various  media  habitu- 
ally ridiculed  persons  of  Jewish  origin,  primarily  the  youngish  Jewish  author  Leon 
de  Winter,  who  had  brought  lawsuits  against  van  Gogh  on  and  off  for  the  past  ten 

Van  Gogh  in  turn  attacked  Gans  in  his  column  in  the  weekly  of  the  University 
of  Amsterdam,  Folia ,  using  offensive  language  that  led  to  his  dismissal  from  the 
paper.  Van  Gogh  continued,  however,  as  a  columnist  for  other  media,  including 
television,  claiming  his  right  to  "freedom  of  expression." 

THE    NETHERLANDS      /      259 


The  Netherlands  Ashkenazic  community  (NIK)  reported  its  membership  at  the 
end  of  1994  at  5,620,  against  5,703  at  the  end  of  1993.  Three  fifths,  or  3,032 
members,  were  living  in  the  Amsterdam  area,  387  in  the  Rotterdam  area,  and  382 
in  the  Hague  area;  the  remainder  were  scattered  in  9  middle-sized  and  2 1  very  small 
communities.  The  membership  of  the  Sephardic  community,  largely  based  in  Am- 
sterdam, was  about  five  hundred,  including  recent  immigrants  from  Middle  Eastern 
countries.  The  membership  of  the  Liberal  Jewish  community  (LJG),  with  six  con- 
gregations, was  about  2,500. 

Since  the  total  number  of  Jews  or  persons  of  Jewish  origin  in  Holland  was 
estimated  at  between  25,000  and  30,000,  this  meant  that  only  about  one-third 
belonged  to  the  organized  religious  community.  Some  10  percent  or  so  were  mem- 
bers of  general  Jewish  groups,  such  as  Maccabi  or  WIZO.  Still  others  limited  their 
Jewish  contacts  to  making  use  of  the  services  of  Jewish  welfare  organizations  to 
apply  for  benefits  to  war  victims. 

Communal  Affairs 

Within  the  NIK,  Rabbi  Lody  van  de  Kamp,  who  had  been  a  communal  rabbi  of 
The  Hague  since  1981  and  of  Amsterdam  since  1988,  became  the  rabbi  of  the 
Ashkenazic  community  in  the  Rotterdam  area  in  August  1994.  The  board  of  the 
Amsterdam  Ashkenazic  community  (NIHS)  decided  not  to  appoint  a  third  rabbi 
as  Van  de  Kamp's  successor  but  to  leave  the  number  of  communal  rabbis  at  two. 
Sam  Behar,  age  62,  a  member  of  the  Sephardic  congregation  and  a  former  army 
chaplain,  was  appointed  to  do  pastoral  work  for  12  hours  a  week. 

The  stability  of  the  NIK  and  the  NIHS  was  threatened  by  a  rift  between  a  small 
group  of  ultra-Orthodox  Jews,  led  by  former  chief  rabbi  Meir  Just  and  communal 
rabbi  Frank  Lewis,  and  the  majority,  which  supported  the  Orthodox  character  of 
the  community  but  was  more  tolerant  of  different  views.  The  conflict  was  expressed 
in  various  issues,  one  being  the  institution  of  more  stringent  conditions  for  the 
conversion  of  a  non-Jewish  partner  in  a  mixed  marriage. 

The  conflict  between  Rabbi  Just  and  the  executive  of  the  NIK  over  the  funds 
received  by  the  chief  rabbinate  for  supervision  of  kosher  slaughter  was  resolved  in 
1995.  Rabbi  Just  had  claimed  that  he  was  entitled  to  use  these  funds  at  his  own 
discretion,  specifically  to  finance  a  preparatory  yeshivah  for  two  14-year-old  boys 
who  later  were  to  attend  a  yeshivah  abroad.  The  parties  agreed  that  the  money 
belonged  to  the  NIK  as  such  and  not  to  the  chief  rabbinate,  but  that  the  NIK  should 
use  it  mainly  for  strengthening  religous  activities  among  Dutch  Jewry  (though  not 
to  educate  the  two  boys). 

Rabbi  Shmuel  Katzmann,  age  27,  originally  from  New  York  and  a  son-in-law  of 

260      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

Rabbi  Isaac  Vorst  of  Amsterdam,  was  appointed  a  second  Ashkenazi  rabbi  in  The 
Hague,  primarily  in  charge  of  the  Scheveningen  congregation  and  the  recently 
opened  Jewish  old-age  home  there.  Katzmann  and  the  earlier  appointed  rabbi 
Pinchas  Meijers,  and  Rabbi  Vorst  all  belonged  to  Chabad-Lubavitch.  Meijers  and 
Katzmann  both  received  their  training  at  Chabad  institutions  abroad. 

In  Amsterdam,  the  small  synagogue  in  Linnaeus  Street  in  the  eastern  part  of  the 
city  was  closed  down  for  lack  of  worshipers.  Most  of  the  congregants  had  moved 
to  the  south  of  the  city,  where  the  suburb  of  Amstelveen  now  had  the  main  concen- 
tration of  Jews.  For  the  same  reason,  the  Sephardic  community  bought  a  house  in 
Amstelveen  where  services  could  be  held.  The  Sephardic  community  appointed 
24-year-old  Mordechai  Enekar,  born  in  Morocco,  as  assistant  rabbi.  He  received  his 
training  at  the  Gateshead  Yeshivah  in  England. 

The  David  Henriques  de  Castro  Foundation  was  established  to  raise  money  for 
the  restoration  of  the  tombstones  in  the  nearly  400-year-old  Sephardic  cemetery  at 
Ouderkerk,  southeast  of  Amsterdam.  Henriques  de  Castro  was  the  author  of  a 
monumental  work  on  the  tombstones  of  this  burial  ground,  written  a  century  ago. 

A  conflict  arose  in  the  Liberal  Jewish  synagogue  in  Amsterdam  about  the  wearing 
of  a  tallit  (prayer  shawl)  by  women  during  services.  A  number  of  women,  largely 
from  the  United  States  or  otherwise  newcomers  to  the  community,  had  introduced 
this  custom,  to  which  the  majority  of  the  established  members  objected.  It  was 
agreed  that  Rabbi  David  Lilienthal  would  help  decide  each  case  individually. 

On  the  occasion  of  the  40th  anniversary  of  the  Liberal  Jewish  monthly  Levend 
Joods  Geloof,  a  symposium  was  held  in  Amsterdam  in  January  1995  on  the  theme 
"Europe,  A  Many-coloured  Coat,"  on  the  contributions  Jews  have  made  to  Euro- 
pean civilization. 

The  new  building  of  the  Cheider,  the  strictly  Orthodox  Jewish  school,  was  oi- 
cially  dedicated  on  February  2,  1994,  at  an  impressive  ceremony  attended  by  Prin- 
cess Margriet.  It  had  been  unofficially  in  use  since  November  1993. 

A  new  Jewish  old-age  home,  the  Mr.  L.E.  Visser  Home,  was  opened  in  Schevenin- 
gen near  The  Hague,  to  replace  the  Jewish  old-age  home  in  Rotterdam.  It  contains 
a  synagogue  that  also  serves  residents  and  tourists  in  this  seaside  resort  and  replaces 
the  former  synagogue  at  the  Harstenhoekway,  which  was  closed  down.  Many 
months  after  the  official  opening  of  the  Visser  Home,  some  20  rooms  were  still 
unoccupied  for  lack  of  candidates. 

JMW  opened  a  second  house  in  Amsterdam  for  the  temporary  accommodation 
of  Jews  applying  for  asylum  in  Holland  whose  applications  had  not  yet  been  acted 
on.  At  the  same  time,  beginning  in  December  1994,  JMW  ceased  giving  legal 
assistance  to  applicants  for  asylum  in  Holland  who  came  from  Russia  and  claimed 
to  be  Jews  but  were  not,  having  made  use  of  forged  papers  or  of  papers  they  bought. 

WIZO  Holland  was  host  to  the  European  WIZO  conference,  December  11-12, 
1994,  which  had  as  its  theme  "Equal  Rights  for  Women."  With  funds  collected  in 
Holland,  WIZO  opened  a  center  in  the  Arab  village  of  Rihaniyah  in  Galilee. 

The  European  branch  of  the  International  Council  of  Jewish  Women  held  a 

THE    NETHERLANDS      /      261 

conference  in  Amsterdam  in  the  Liberal  Jewish  Center  in  March  1995,  with  the 
participation  of  women  from  22  European  countries,  on  the  theme  "Jewish  Identity 
Under  Pressure." 

Holocaust  Commemoration 

The  centralJewish  commemoration  of  the  end  of  World  War  II  and  the  liberation 
of  Holland,  organized  jointly  by  the  three  Jewish  communities — Ashkenazic, 
Sephardic,  and  Liberal — was  held  in  the  Sephardic  Esnoga  in  Amsterdam  on 
Sunday  afternoon  May  7,  1995,  almost  50  years  to  the  day  that  the  first  synagogue 
service  in  liberated  Amsterdam  took  place  in  the  same  sanctuary,  which,  as  a 
protected  monument,  had  been  left  untouched  by  the  Germans.  Those  taking  part 
then,  with  the  late  Rabbi  Justus  Tal  conducting  the  service,  had  just  emerged  from 
their  hiding  places  in  the  Amsterdam  area,  largely  still  unaware  of  the  fate  of  their 
dear  ones. 

The  Esnoga  was  also  chosen  for  the  present  event  because  it  is  the  largest  syna- 
gogue building  in  Amsterdam — to  its  1 ,  100  seats  were  added  benches  so  that  overall 
it  could  accommodate  1 ,400.  Tickets  were  no  longer  available  a  fortnight  before  the 

Although  Yizkor  and  Kaddish  were  recited,  as  well  as  prayers  for  the  royal  family 
and  for  the  State  of  Israel,  this  was  not  a  religious  service.  Former  chief  rabbi  Meir 
Just  had  objected  to  participating  in  a  reUgious  service  together  with  representatives 
of  the  Liberal  Jewish  community  and  had  even  forbidden  Chief  Cantor  Hans  Bloe- 
mendal  to  officiate.  The  solution  found  was  to  have  Bloemendal  sing  as  a  soloist  in 
the  synagogue  choir,  but  not  as  hazzan .  The  dispute  received  much  publicity,  in  the 
general  as  well  as  the  Jewish  press. 

The  impressive  ceremony  was  attended  by  Prince-Consort  Claus,  by  Crown 
Prince  Willem-Alexander,  by  Premier  Willem  Kok,  who  was  one  of  the  speakers, 
and  by  the  Israeli  ambassador.  The  entire  event  lasted  over  an  hour  and  was  shown 
in  full  on  Dutch  television.  Other  speakers  were  Rabbi  Barend  Drukarch,  of  the 
Sephardic  community,  who  as  a  young  man  had  survived  in  hiding  in  Amsterdam, 
and  former  mayor  of  Amsterdam  Ed  van  Thijn. 

The  commemoration  of  Yom  Hashoah  (Holocaust  Memorial  Day)  on  April  26, 
1995,  took  place,  as  it  had  for  many  years,  in  the  courtyard  of  the  Hollandsche 
Schouwburg,  the  former  Amsterdam  theater  that  was  used  by  the  Germans  from 
September  1942  to  September  1944  as  a  collecting  point  for  Jews  who  had  been 
rounded  up  and  were  awaiting  transport  to  Westerbork,  a  concentration  camp.  The 
annual  ceremony,  which  is  organized  jointly  by  several  Jewish  congregations  and 
organizations  and  is  always  attended  by  representatives  of  the  civil  authorities, 
including  the  present  mayor  of  Amsterdam,  Schelto  Patijn,  was  unusually  well 
attended  this  time. 

A  few  weeks  earUer,  on  April  12,  a  ceremony  took  place  at  Westerbork,  in  the 
east  of  the  country,  to  commemorate  its  liberation  exactly  50  years  earlier  by 

262     /     AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

Canadian  soldiers.  Among  those  present  were  survivors,  representatives  of  the 
Israeli  and  German  embassies,  and  Crown  Prince  Willem-Alexander.  At  the  time 
of  liberation  only  800  Jews  were  still  in  the  camp.  The  other  nearly  100,000  who 
had  stayed  there  at  one  time  or  another  had  all  been  deported  to  extermination 
camps  in  the  east,  and  only  6,000  of  them  survived.  Also  memorialized  were  the  245 
Gypsies  who  in  June  1943  had  been  rounded  up  and  taken  to  Westerbork  and  then 
to  the  east,  of  whom  only  a  few  dozen  survived. 


In  connection  with  the  50th  anniversary  of  liberation,  a  number  of  memorial 
tablets  were  unveiled  for  local  Jews  who  had  perished.  These  were,  among  others, 
in  The  Hague  at  the  site  of  a  former  Jewish  center;  in  Dinxperlo,  at  the  site  of  the 
former  synagogue;  in  Bois-le-Duc,  for  the  pupils  of  the  Jewish  school  who  had 
perished;  and  in  the  village  of  Gennep. 

In  November  1994,  the  small  synagogue  of  Middelburg,  which  had  been  de- 
stroyed 50  years  earlier  by  a  British  shell  during  the  battle  for  the  island  of  Walch- 
eren,  was  renovated,  thanks  to  the  efforts  of  a  local,  largely  non-Jewish,  committee. 
As  very  few  Jews  now  lived  in  the  entire  province  of  Zealand,  it  would  also  be  used 
as  a  cultural  center.  On  January  30,  1995,  the  18th-century  synagogue  of  Amers- 
foort,  which  had  been  in  bad  repair  and  been  renovated,  likewise  largely  through 
local  efforts,  was  rededicated. 

Among  many  exhibitions  related  to  the  war  were  "Children  in  Westerbork"  at 
the  Westerbork  Center;  "Rebel  mijn  hart"  (Rebel,  my  heart)  at  the  Resistance 
Museum  in  Amsterdam,  devoted  to  artists  who  lost  their  lives  during  the  German 
occupation  either  in  the  resistance  or  because  they  were  Jews;  and  an  exhibition  of 
art  by  Art  Spiegelman  for  his  Maus  books  at  the  Jewish  Historical  Museum  in 

A  number  of  documentaries  on  the  suffering  of  the  Jews  from  Holland  during  the 
years  1940-45  were  presented  by  various  Dutch  broadcasting  companies,  both  on 
TV  and  radio.  Some  had  been  shown  earlier,  such  as  these  two  by  Willy  Lindwer: 
The  Last  Seven  Months  of  Anne  Frank  and  Child  in  Two  Worlds,  about  the  reactions 
of  Jewish  children  to  their  stay  with  non-Jewish  foster  parents. 

A  new  production  by  Willy  Lindwer  was  The  Fatal  Dilemma,  a  balanced  look 
at  the  much  maligned  "Joodsche  Raad"  (Jewish  Council)  that  was  established  by 
order  of  the  Germans  and  that  was  accused  after  the  war  of  having  collaborated  and 
cooperated  in  the  deportation  of  most  Jews  from  Holland.  A  book  on  the  subject 
was  published  simultaneously. 

Settela ,  a  documentary  by  Aad  Wagenaar,  a  journalist,  contended  that  the  girl 
in  a  well-known  picture — wearing  a  head  scarf  and  looking  out  of  a  train  wagon 
in  Westerbork  just  as  the  doors  were  about  to  close — was  not  Jewish  but  a  Gypsy 
girl,  Settela  Steinbach.  On  June  16,  1944,  she  was  deported  from  Westerbork, 
together  with  244  other  Gypsies.  The  picture  was  a  still  from  a  film  about  Wester- 

THE    NETHERLANDS      /      263 

bork  made  at  the  order  of  the  Nazi  camp  commander  by  the  German-Jewish 
filmmaker  Rudolf  Breslauer,  who  himself  was  deported  on  September  4,  1 944. 

Steven  Spielberg's  Schindler's  List  was  the  most  popular  film  in  Holland  in  1994. 
It  was  launched  at  a  gala  premiere,  the  proceeds  of  which  went  to  the  Anne  Frank 
Foundation  to  help  fund  the  worldwide  showing  of  its  documentary  The  World  of 
Anne  Frank. 

The  Survivors  of  the  Shoah  Project  of  the  Spielberg  Visual  History  Foundation, 
which  records  the  personal  stories  of  survivors,  was  launched  in  Holland  in  Febru- 
ary 1995.  Some  120  interviewers  were  selected  from  200  applicants,  most  of  them 
non-Jewish.  The  goal  was  to  interview  about  a  thousand  survivors  from  Holland, 
but  by  the  end  of  May  only  85  persons  had  shown  an  interest  in  being  included. 

The  Yad  Vashem  Memorial  in  Jerusalem  continued  to  honor  Righteous  Gentiles 
in  Holland.  The  ceremony  held  on  June  6,  1995,  at  which  19  awards  were  presented, 
10  of  them  posthumously,  had  a  very  special  character,  because  of  the  50th  anniver- 
sary of  liberation.  It  took  place  in  the  Sephardic  Esnoga  in  Amsterdam,  which  was 
filled  to  capacity,  and  was  jointly  organized  by  the  Israeli  embassy,  the  Ashkenazic, 
Sephardic,  and  Liberal  Jewish  communities,  and  the  Friends  of  Yad  Vashem  Soci- 
ety. The  awards  were  presented  by  the  director  of  Yad  Vashem  in  Jerusalem,  A. 
Shalev.  The  speakers  were  Minister  of  Defense  Joris  Voorhoeve  and  Rabbi  Be- 
nyamin  Jacobs.  A  special  feature  of  the  event  was  a  video  presentation  in  which  each 
of  the  rescuers,  or  one  of  his  or  her  children ,  and  one  of  the  Jews  he  or  she  had  helped 
to  survive,  told  of  their  shared  experiences. 

The  much  disputed  proposal  to  give  a  Yad  Vashem  award  to  Alfons  ZUndler,  the 
German  guard  at  the  Hollandse  Schouwburg  in  1942-43  who  had  helped  several 
Jews  to  escape  but  who  had  been  a  member  of  the  SS,  continued  to  arouse  protest 
from  an  ad  hoc  action  committee.  Yad  Vashem  eventually  decided  to  send  him  a 
letter  of  thanks  but  not  to  give  him  an  award. 

At  the  end  of  April  1995,  a  reunion  took  place  in  Amsterdam  between  Luba 
Tryczynskaja,  now  living  in  Miami,  Florida,  and  the  50  or  so  Jewish  children  she 
had  helped  to  survive  in  Bergen  Belsen,  after  their  parents  had  been  deported  from 
there  in  December  1994.  "The  angel  of  Bergen  Belsen,"  as  she  was  called,  received 
the  Silver  Medal  of  the  Municipality  of  Amsterdam. 

On  May  7,  1995,  prior  to  the  central  Jewish  commemoration  of  VE-Day  in  the 
Esnoga,  the  Genootschap  voor  de  Joodse  Wetenschap,  the  Jewish  Historical  Soci- 
ety, organized  a  symposium  on  "Dutch  Jewry  1945-2020,"  which  was  attended  by 
some  180  persons.  The  symposium  was  also  held  to  celebrate  the  75th  anniversary 
of  the  society,  which  was  established  in  1919  by  a  small  group  of  Jewish  scholars 
engaged  in  Jewish  studies.  The  society  was  now  open  to  all  interested  Jewish 
university  graduates  and  had  a  membership  of  about  350.  Meetings  were  held  about 
eight  times  a  year. 

The  Jewish  women's  organization  Deborah,  in  connection  with  the  commemora- 
tions of  the  50th  anniversary  of  liberation,  organized  a  symposium  on  "Jewish 
Women  in  the  Resistance  Movement." 

264      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

Other  Holocaust-Related  Matters 

Following  the  lead  of  the  Second  Chamber  of  Parliament,  the  Senate  voted  on 
July  7,  1994,  to  cease  giving  permanent  payments  under  the  Law  for  Payments  to 
War  Victims  (WUV)  to  members  of  the  second  and  later  generations,  those  born 
after  World  War  II.  Financial  support  for  psychiatric  treatment  would  be  con- 
tinued, however.  The  Jewish  Social  Welfare  Foundation  (JMW),  the  Organization 
of  Second  Generation  Victims,  and  the  three  main  Jewish  communities  protested, 
as  did  the  Organization  of  Jewish  War  Victims  from  Holland  in  Israel,  Ayalah. 

JMW  began  organizing  programs  for  Jews  still  feeling  the  effects,  in  one  way  or 
another,  of  their  experiences  during  the  years  1940-45.  In  March  1994,  it  offered 
a  well-attended  conference  on  "The  Jewish  Child  During  the  War,"  for  members 
of  the  first,  second,  and  third  generations.  In  May  it  presented  a  conference  in  The 
Hague  for  the  same  constituency  on  "Speaking  About  Silence,"  which  was  attended 
by  some  400  persons  and  was  opened  by  the  minister  of  social  welfare.  The  confer- 
ence received  much  attention  in  the  media. 

The  Anne  Frank  Foundation,  which  is  not  a  Jewish  institution,  received  permis- 
sion from  the  Amsterdam  municipality  to  expand  the  Anne  Frank  House  by  demol- 
ishing some  adjoining  houses.  The  Anne  Frank  House  had  become  much  too  small 
to  accommodate  the  thousands  of  visitors  a  day  (some  600,000  a  year),  with  long 
queues  always  waiting  outside.  The  costs  of  the  reconstruction,  which  were  es- 
timated at  some  $  10  million,  would  be  defrayed  partly  by  the  Amsterdam  municipal- 
ity and  partly,  it  was  expected,  by  sponsors. 


The  Jewish  Historical  Museum  in  Amsterdam  continued  to  receive  a  large  num- 
ber of  visitors.  In  the  period  under  review,  it  opened  one  semi-permanent  exhibition, 
which  would  be  on  view  for  the  next  five  years,  on  the  participation  of  Jews  in  the 
economic  life  of  the  Netherlands  since  1796,  and  four  temporary  exhibits.  One 
offered  some  40  paintings  by  the  German-Jewish  painter  FeHx  Nussbaum  (1904- 
1944),  organized  with  the  cooperation  of  the  Kulturgeschichtliches  Museum  in 
Osnabruck,  where  he  was  born  and  grew  up.  His  parents  moved  to  Amsterdam  after 
Kristallnacht  in  1938  and  were  eventually  deported;  the  artist  and  his  wife  lived  in 
Brussels,  from  where,  in  1944,  he  too  was  deported.  Another  temporary  exhibition 
was  of  sketches  by  Art  Spiegelman  for  his  cartoon  novels  Maus  I  and  II,  and  a  third 
consisted  of  photographs  of  monuments  and  posters  created  by  Dutch- Jewish  artist 
Ralph  Prins,  born  in  1926,  both  for  Jewish  memorials  and  for  Amnesty  Interna- 

The  fourth  and  most  important  of  the  temporary  exhibitions  was  titled  "The 
Marginal  Great,"  featuring  works  of  some  60  Dutch-Jewish  painters  who  were 
active  between  1845  and  1940.  The  works  were  either  on  loan  for  the  exhibition  or 
were  in  the  possession  of  the  museum  but  not  usually  shown  to  the  public.  There 

THE    NETHERLANDS      /      265 

were  paintings  by  both  well-known  and  lesser-known  painters,  and  only  some  of  the 
works  had  explicit  Jewish  subjects. 

An  International  Jewish  Music  Festival  was  held  in  Amsterdam,  November  16- 
29,  1994,  with  special  attention  to  klezmer  music.  Among  the  performers  was  the 
American  Klezmer  Conservatory  Band. 


A  large  number  of  books  published  in  1994  and  early  1995,  nearly  all  of  them 
in  Dutch  only,  were  personal  accounts  by  Jews  of  their  wartime  experiences. 

Two  new  noteworthy  books  not  related  to  the  Holocaust,  written  entirely  or 
partly  in  English,  were  From  Peddlers  to  Factory  Owners:  Jewish  Enterprises  in  the 
Netherlands  1796-1940,  edited  by  Hetty  Berg  and  others,  a  companion  to  the 
exhibition  in  the  Jewish  Historical  Museum;  and  Treasures  of  Jewish  Booklore, 
containing  50  contributions  by  specialists  in  their  own  fields  on  rare  books  in  the 
possession  of  the  Bibliotheca  Rosenthaliana,  the  Hebraica  and  Judaica  department 
of  the  Amsterdam  University  Library.  The  magnificently  produced,  illustrated  vol- 
ume was  published  on  the  occasion  of  the  200th  anniversary  of  the  birth  of  Leeser 
Rosenthal  (1794-1868),  whose  library  forms  the  nucleus  of  the  present  Bibliotheca 
Rosenthaliana  and  was  presented  by  his  heirs  to  the  Amsterdam  municipality. 

Geoffrey  Wigoder's  Joodse  Cultuur,  a  richly  illustrated  work,  appeared  in  Dutch 
translation  before  its  publication  in  the  original  English. 

Popular  novelist  Leon  de  Winter  was  invited  by  the  Commission  for  the  Promo- 
tion of  the  Dutch  Book  (CPNB)  to  write  the  "Book  Week  Present"  for  1995,  a 
96-page  paperback  given  free  of  charge  to  anyone  spending  a  specified  amount 
during  the  annual  Book  Week.  Like  previous  works,  his  new  novella.  Serenade, 
deals  with  a  Jewish  theme.  It  is  about  a  Jewish  woman,  the  mother  of  the  "I"  who 
is  more  or  less  the  alter  ego  of  the  author,  a  survivor  of  the  Holocaust,  who  suddenly 
disappears  into  Bosnia  where  she  wants  to  help  the  victims — a  most  improbable  plot 
in  which  sex  plays  a  large  part.  Despite  some  protests  over  the  sexual  content,  the 
Ministry  of  Education  distributed  200,000  copies  to  high-school  students — linking 
it  to  the  50th  anniversary  of  Dutch  liberation. 


Gerhard  L.  Durlacher  received  the  1995  Anne  Frank  Prize  of  the  Anne  Frank 
Fund  in  Basle  as  well  as  the  AKO  Prize  (Dutch  booksellers)  for  his  novel  Quaran- 
taine,  based  on  his  experiences  on  returning  from  the  concentration  camps  to 
Holland.  A  sociologist  by  profession,  who  began  writing  about  his  wartime  experi- 
ences when  he  was  in  his  fifties,  he  was  also  awarded  an  honorary  doctorate  by  the 
University  of  Amsterdam. 

OttoTreumann,  aged  75,  a  graphic  designer,  was  honored  by  the  Foundation  for 
the  Graphic  Arts  for  his  life's  work.  In  addition  to  commissions  for  non-Jewish 

266      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

organizations,  he  designed  a  "logo"  for  El  Al  and  designs  for  many  Jewish  organiza- 
tions in  Holland,  such  as  the  Jewish  National  Fund. 

In  the  Queen's  Birthday  List  for  1995,  the  award  of  Officer  in  the  Order  of 
Orange-Nassau  was  given  to,  among  others.  Prof  Hans  Bloemendal,  chief  cantor 
of  the  Ashkenazic  congregation  of  Amsterdam;  Mrs.  R.  ("Ted")  Musaph  (nee 
Andriesse),  inter  alia  chairwoman  of  the  board  of  governors  of  the  Jewish  Historical 
Museum;  and  Rabbi  Avraham  Soetendorp,  the  Liberal  rabbi  of  The  Hague. 

Mrs.  Anna  Cohn  (nee  Erwteman)  became  chairwoman  of  the  European  branch 
of  WIZO.  Jaap  Meijers  and  Herman  Menco  were  succeeded  as  chairman  and 
honorary  treasurer  of  the  United  Israel  Campaign  by  Joseph  Elburg  and  Dick 
Bruinsma,  respectively. 

Among  prominent  Dutch  Jews  who  died  in  1994  and  the  first  half  of  1995  were 
Prof  Ivo  Samkalden,  a  former  minister  of  justice  and  from  1967  to  1977  mayor  of 
Amsterdam,  aged  82;  Manuel  Ph.  Menco,  for  23  years  chairman  of  the  Jewish 
community  of  Groninguen  and  at  the  time  of  his  death  a  member  of  the  executive 
of  the  Netherlands  Ashkenazi  community,  aged  68;  Edna  Rafaelowitz,  Polish-bom, 
with  her  late  husband  one  of  the  champions  of  Yiddish  in  Holland,  aged  82; 
Hermann  Bleich,  Polish-born  journalist  who  came  to  Holland  in  1938  and  after  1945 
became  Dutch  correspondent  for  many  Swiss  and  German  papers  and  for  the  Israeli 
Ma'ariv  as  well  as  chairman  of  the  Association  of  Foreign  Correspondents  in 
Holland,  aged  78;  and  in  Israel,  Aaron  Schuster,  chief  rabbi  of  Amsterdam  from 
1953  to  1972,  a  founder  of  the  Conference  of  European  Rabbis,  aged  89. 

Henriette  Boas 


National  Affairs 


Italian  public  life  in  1994  and  early  1995  was  marked  by  tempest 
and  turmoil.  Italians  went  to  the  polls  in  the  wake  of  three  years  of  corruption 
investigations  and  political  upheaval  that  destroyed  the  political  parties  that  had 
ruled  the  country  since  World  War  II  and  disgraced  numerous  luminaries.  Parlia- 
mentary elections  were  held  March  27,  1994,  coinciding  with  the  first  day  of  Pass- 
over. Following  Jewish  and  other  protests,  state  authorities  extended  voting  until 
after  sundown  on  March  28  so  that  observant  Jews  could  vote. 

The  elections  caused  grave  concern  in  the  Jewish  community.  They  brought  a 
stunning  victory  to  a  center-right  "Freedom  Alliance"  coalition  headed  by  media 
magnate  Silvio  Berlusconi.  Berlusconi,  who  only  entered  politics  in  January  1994, 
allied  his  new  Forza  Italia  party  with  the  federalist  Northern  League  and  the 
National  Alliance — a  new  right-wing  party  based  on  the  neofascist  Italian  Social 
Movement  (MSI)  and  led  by  MSI  leader  Gianfranco  Fini.  National  Alliance  candi- 
date Alessandra  Mussolini,  granddaughter  of  II  Duce,  trounced  her  opposition  to 
win  a  Parliament  seat  in  Naples.  Berlusconi's  25-member  cabinet  included  five 
members  from  the  National  Alliance,  three  of  whom  were  MSI  members.  This 
marked  the  first  time  in  postwar  Europe  that  members  of  a  neofascist  party  entered 
government,  and  the  development  drew  protest  and  warning  from  many  quarters 
within  Italy  and  abroad.  Italian  officials  went  out  of  their  way  to  play  down  this 
concern  and  reiterate  their  belief  in  the  democratic  process.  In  May,  for  example. 
Foreign  Minister  Antonio  Martino  met  with  Jewish  leaders  in  Washington  to  reas- 
sure them  that  the  government  was  not  extremist. 

The  new  president  of  the  Chamber  of  Deputies,  Irene  Pivetti,  also  caused  some 
initial  concern.  A  fundamentalist  Catholic,  Pivetti  had  been  cited  for  anti-Semitic 
writings  in  the  Institute  of  Jewish  Affairs'  1993  Anti-Semitism  World  Report.  Two 
months  after  she  took  office  in  April,  Pivetti  met  with  Rome  chief  rabbi  Elio  Toaff 
and  Israeli  ambassador  Avi  Pazner,  who  also  met  with  Foreign  Minister  Martino. 

In  August,  Labor  Minister  Clemente  Mastella  sparked  accusations  of  anti-Semi- 
tism against  Berlusconi's  government  when  newspapers  quoted  him  as  blaming  the 
weakness  of  the  lira  at  least  partly  on  New  York  Jewish  financiers.  "The  presence 
of  the  National  Alliance  in  the  government  worries  New  York's  Jewish  lobby," 
Mastella  was  quoted  as  saying.  "Jewish  high  finance  still  does  not  get  the  distinction 
between  the  old  [neo-fascist]  Italian  Social  Movement  and  the  National  Alliance. 
We  should  explain  to  them  that  the  evolutionary  line  carried  forward  by  Gianfranco 
Fini  is  increasingly  distant  from  the  old  concept  of  a  static  and  nostalgic  right." 


268      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH     YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

Mastella  apologized  for  his  remarks,  saying  that  they  had  been  taken  out  of 
context  and  misinterpreted  by  the  media.  He  had  what  the  Labor  Ministry  termed 
a  "long  and  friendly  conversation"  with  Chief  Rabbi  Toaff  to  "[clarify]  the  sense 
of  the  words  which  when  distorted  provoked  an  unjustified  row."  Toaff  accepted  the 
explanation  but  warned  of  what  he  believed  was  rising  anti-Semitism  in  Italy. 

Berlusconi  was  forced  to  resign  in  December,  after  being  notified  that  he  was 
under  investigation  for  corruption  and  after  the  Northern  League  pulled  out  of  the 
coaUtion.  A  government  of  technocrats  headed  by  banker  Lamberto  Dini,  which  did 
not  include  neofascists,  took  over.  Meanwhile,  in  a  national  convention  in  late 
January  1995,  Fini  formally  cut  National  Alliance  links  with  the  MSI  and  declared 
the  National  Alliance  a  mainstream  rightist  party  that  rejected  racism  and  extrem- 
ism. Some  hard-line  MSI  members  refused  to  go  along  and  maintained  their  own 
small  party. 

Jews  tended  to  remain  skeptical  of  the  change  in  the  National  Alliance  and  wary 
of  Fini,  however.  In  February  1995,  the  Martin  Buber-Jews  for  Peace  group,  a 
political-cultural  organization  dedicated  to  combating  racism  and  anti-Semitism 
and  promoting  Jewish  cultural  activities  and  Israeli-Palestinian  dialogue,  issued  an 
open  letter  to  American  Jewish  groups  urging  them  not  to  meet  with  Fini  if  he 
traveled  to  the  United  States. 

In  regional  elections  in  April  1995,  right-wing  forces,  including  the  National 
Alliance,  did  far  worse  than  expected,  with  center-left  candidates  scoring  impressive 
victories.  Jewish  leaders  expressed  satisfaction  at  this. 

Israel  and  the  Middle  East 

The  dramatic  changes  in  Italy's  political  system  and  ruling  elite  in  the  wake  of 
the  wide-ranging  corruption  scandals  combined  to  create  a  closer  relationship  be- 
tween Italy  and  Israel.  The  foreign  poHcy  of  Italy's  previous  governments,  domi- 
nated by  the  Christian  Democratic  Party,  was  overtly  pro- Arab  and  pro-Palestinian, 
and  the  left-wing  Communist  opposition  was  also  strongly  anti-Zionist. 

The  evolution  of  a  new  poHtical  leadership — paralleUng  the  positive  evolution  of 
the  Middle  East  peace  process — influenced  a  change  in  foreign  policy  direction  to 
one  noticeably  friendlier  to  Israel.  Prime  Minister  Yitzhak  Rabin  and  Foreign 
Minister  Shimon  Peres  both  visited  Italy  in  1994.  In  the  late  spring  and  early 
summer  of  1995,  Foreign  Minister  Susanna  Agnelli  arranged  to  host  secret  Israeli- 
Palestinian  negotiations  in  several  locations  in  Italy. 

Vatican-Israel  Relations 

Events  unfolded  rapidly  following  the  agreement  between  Israel  and  the  Vatican 
to  estabUsh  full  diplomatic  relations,  signed  December  30,  1993.  Three  weeks  after 
the  agreement  was  signed.  Archbishop  Andrea  Cordero  Lanza  di  Montezemolo  was 
named  the  Vatican's  first  envoy  to  Israel,  and  veteran  Israeli  diplomat  Shmuel 

ITALY     /     269 

Hadas  was  named  Israel's  first  envoy  to  the  Holy  See.  Italian-born  Lanza  di  Mon- 
tezemelo,  68,  had  considerable  experience  in  the  Middle  East  and  at  the  time  of  his 
nomination  was  serving  as  the  Holy  See's  Apostolic  Delegate  to  Jerusalem  and 
Palestine  and  as  the  Apostolic  Pro-Nuncio  to  Cyprus. 

In  early  February  1994,  a  huge  interfaith  conference  brought  750  Christian  and 
Jewish  leaders  from  92  nations  to  Jerusalem,  among  them  senior  Vatican  officials. 
Israeli  prime  minister  Rabin  met  with  Pope  John  Paul  II  at  the  Vatican  in  March 
1994  and  asked  him  to  use  the  Vatican's  influence  with  the  PLO  and  Arab  states 
to  get  the  Middle  East  peace  process  back  on  track.  At  the  meeting  Rabin  also 
renewed  Israel's  invitation  for  the  pope  to  visit  Israel.  No  specific  dates  were 
mentioned,  but  a  Vatican  spokesman  said  the  pope  accepted  the  invitation  "with  the 
sincere  hope  that  circumstances  will  permit  him  to  make  this  desired  visit."  Foreign 
Minister  Shimon  Peres  also  reiterated  the  invitation  during  a  meeting  with  the  pope 
at  the  Vatican  in  November  1994.  During  1994  and  early  1995,  John  Paul  several 
times  said  he  wanted  to  visit  Israel  and  the  Holy  Land  and  walk  in  biblical  footsteps, 
particularly  as  the  year  2000  approached. 

Full  diplomatic  relations  between  the  Vatican  and  Israel  were  finally  formalized 
in  June  1994,  and  Lanza  di  Montezemolo  and  Hadas  were  confirmed  as  ambassa- 
dors. Two  weeks  later,  the  Dead  Sea  Scrolls  went  on  display  at  the  Vatican,  marking 
the  first  time  the  scrolls  had  been  exhibited  in  Europe,  and  the  first  time  that  an 
official  Israeli  exhibition  had  gone  on  show  at  the  Vatican. 

Meanwhile,  the  Vatican  also  improved  its  relations  with  the  Arab  world.  The 
Vatican  established  diplomatic  relations  with  Jordan  on  March  3,  1994.  In  mid- 
January  1994,  a  delegation  from  the  Palestine  Liberation  Organization  met  with 
senior  officials  at  the  Vatican  in  a  move  to  open  more  regular  contacts  between  them, 
which  led  to  formal  diplomatic  ties  being  established  in  October.  The  links  fell  short, 
however,  of  full  diplomatic  relations. 

Racism  and  Anti-Semitism 

Racist  attacks,  skinhead  activities,  and  manifestations  of  anti-Semitism  worried 
Jews  and  non-Jews  alike.  Concern  was  also  raised  by  a  form  of  revisionism  mani- 
fested in  a  growing  trend  to  depict  wartime  fascists  as  victims  on  a  par  with  the 
victims  or  opponents  of  fascism.  The  reevaluation  of  fascism  and  its  legacy  became 
a  subject  of  widespread  debate  in  the  media  and  in  political  and  intellectual  circles. 

In  December  1994,  for  example,  an  organization  of  fascist  war  veterans  put  up 
about  1,000  posters  bearing  a  large  portrait  of  Mussolini  on  Milan  walls.  This  was 
to  commemorate  the  50th  anniversary  of  the  foundation  of  the  ItaHan  Social  Repub- 
lic, Mussolini's  fascist  puppet  state  set  up  in  1944  in  northern  Italy  after  the  Allies 
took  over  the  southern  part  of  Italy.  The  placing  of  the  posters  was  approved  by 
city  officials  but  sparked  protest  from  opposition  parties.  Independent  Milan  city 
councilman  Nando  Dalla  Chiesa  branded  the  posters  an  example  of  the  "irresponsi- 
ble institutional  legitimization  of  those  who  were  accomplices  of  the  tragedy  of  the 

270      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

Holocaust."  In  March  1995,  a  group  of  11  Italian  historians  touched  off  a  related 
debate  in  some  intellectual  circles  by  writing  a  letter  to  La  Stampa  newspaper 
defending  the  right  of  Holocaust  deniers  and  revisionists  to  publish  their  beliefs, 
calling  it  a  free-speech  issue.  The  letter  was  in  response  to  the  decision  by  the  French 
government,  following  other  governments,  to  ban  such  publications. 

Numerous  incidents  of  racist  violence  and  vandalism  and  skinhead  activity  were 
publicly  condemned  by  Jewish  leaders.  In  February  1994,  the  Union  of  Italian 
Jewish  Communities  (UCEI)  issued  a  strong  denunciation  of  "the  acts  of  racism 
against  immigrants  and  refugees  that  take  place  almost  every  day  in  Italy."  Most 
racist  incidents  involved  dark-skinned  immigrants,  but  there  were  also  some  specifi- 
cally anti-Semitic  episodes.  In  one  such  episode,  in  early  January  1994,  a  local  priest 
in  Rome,  Don  Curzio  Nitoglia,  delivered  a  sermon  with  a  strong  anti-Semitic 
message  during  a  service  held  to  commemorate  the  killing  of  three  neofascist  youths 
16  years  earlier.  The  priest's  remarks  were  in  sharp  contrast  to  the  overall  positive 
developments  in  Jewish-Christian  relations  and  came  just  a  few  days  after  Israel  and 
the  Vatican  signed  an  agreement  paving  the  way  to  full  diplomatic  relations.  Also 
in  January,  a  Rome  court  sentenced  a  22-year-old  youth  to  four  months  in  jail  for 
anti-Semitic  vandalism  amounting  to  "apologizing  for  genocide,"  then  released  him 
on  conditional  liberty.  His  conviction  was  for  actions  in  November  1992,  when  a 
group  of  skinheads  stuck  up  adhesive  signs  bearing  a  star  of  David  and  slogans  such 
as  "Zionists  out  of  Italy"  on  a  number  of  shops  belonging  to  Jews  in  a  Rome 
neighborhood.  A  Norwegian  Jewish  woman  living  in  the  central  Italian  town  of 
Assisi  was  attacked  twice — once  in  August  1994  and  again  in  January  1995— in 
assaults  apparently  motivated  by  anti-Semitism. 

In  May  1994,  a  rally  by  300  skinheads  was  held  in  the  northern  city  of  Vicenza 
with  the  authorization  of  Vicenza's  police  chief,  prompting  outrage  and  protest  both 
locally  and  nationwide.  The  police  chief  and  another  official  were  removed  from 
their  positions.  One  week  after  the  skinhead  rally,  about  3,000  people  staged  an 
antiskinhead  demonstration  in  Vicenza.  The  demonstration,  however,  was  maned 
by  violent  incidents  between  ultra-left-wing  demonstrators  and  rightists,  despite  a 
heavy  police  presence. 

In  1995,  a  bar  owner  in  Bolzano  in  northern  Italy  touched  off  a  furor  by  selling 
bottles  of  red  wine  labeled  with  the  pictures  of  Adolf  Hitler  and  Benito  Mussolini. 
Bolzano  is  the  capital  of  Italy's  Alto  Adige,  or  South  Tyrol,  region,  which  was  part 
of  Austria  until  World  War  I  and  has  a  mixed  German  and  Italian-speaking  popula- 
tion. The  South  Tyrolean  People's  Party,  which  represents  German  speakers  in  Alto 
Adige,  tried  to  have  the  bar  owner  prosecuted  for  selling  his  Mussolini  wine,  but 
a  judge  ruled  that  the  wine  label  did  not  contravene  Italian  laws  against  fascist 

Researchers  at  the  Center  for  Contemporary  Jewish  Documentation  (CDEQ  in 
Milan  kept  careful  track  of  racist  and  anti-Semitic  trends,  manifestations,  and 
publications.  A  research  center  largely  devoted  to  studies  and  documentation  on  the 
Holocaust  and  anti-Semitism  in  Italy,  CDEC  marked  its  40th  year  of  operation  in 

ITALY      /      271 

Nazi  War  Criminals 

The  case  of  Erich  Priebke  and  efforts  by  Italian  authorities  to  have  him  extradited 
to  Italy  from  Argentina  to  face  war-crimes  charges  was  a  developing  issue  of  major 
concern.  Priebke,  an  SS  captain  and  deputy  to  Herbert  Kappler,  the  Gestapo  chief 
during  the  Nazi  occupation  of  Rome,  was  tracked  down  in  early  May  1994  in  the 
Argentine  Andean  town  of  San  Carlo  Bariloche  by  ABC  News.  Italy  asked  that 
Priebke,  81,  be  extradited  on  charges  of  involvement  in  the  massacre  at  the  Ardea- 
tine  Caves  of  335  Romans,  75  of  them  Jews,  carried  out  in  March  1944  in  reprisal 
fora  partisan  attack  that  killed  33  German  storm  troopers  in  Rome.  Priebke  escaped 
from  a  British  prisoner-of-war  camp  in  1948,  just  before  he  was  to  appear  before 
a  war-crimes  tribunal,  and  fled  to  Argentina.  As  of  May  1995,  Argentine  authorities 
said  Priebke  would  be  extradited,  but  no  date  was  set.  In  the  wake  of  the  Priebke 
case,  an  Italian  magazine  claimed  in  late  May  1994  that  nine  Nazi  war  criminals 
either  currently  lived  or  had  lived  at  one  time  in  Italy  with  impunity  since  World 
War  II. 



Some  35,000-40,000  Jews  lived  in  Italy.  There  were  more  than  a  score  of  orga- 
nized Jewish  communities,  only  one  of  them,  Naples,  south  of  Rome.  Most  Italian 
Jews  lived  in  the  country's  two  main  cities:  15,000  in  Rome  and  10,000  in  Milan. 
The  other  communities  ranged  from  a  few  dozen  to  just  over  1,000  Jews,  and  a 
number  of  other  Jews  lived  scattered  in  towns  and  cities  without  organized  commu- 
nity facilities. 

Communal  Affairs 

In  July  1994,  delegates  from  all  Italian  Jewish  communities  gathered  in  Rome  for 
the  Congress  of  the  Rome-based  Union  of  Italian  Jewish  Communities  (UCEI),  the 
umbrella  organization  of  Italian  Jewry.  The  congress  is  held  every  four  years  to  elect 
officials  and  chart  Italian  Jewry's  official  policy  for  the  next  four  years:  policy  within 
the  community,  relations  with  Italian  society  at  large,  and  formal  relations  with 
state  institutions.  The  three-day  congress  was  given  wide  coverage  in  the  Italian 
media.  Italian  president  Oscar  Luigi  Scalfaro  opened  the  meetings  with  a  speech 
underlining  the  importance  of  Jewish  culture  in  Italian  life. 

Delegates  elected  a  new  council  and  retained  Tullia  Zevi  as  president  of  the  union. 
The  first  woman  president  of  the  organization,  she  had  served  in  that  office  since 

Delegates  unanimously  passed  a  resolution  calling  for  vigilance  against  right-wing 
extremism  and  neofascism  in  Italy  and  urging  international  Jewish  organizations  to 

272      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

consider  local  Jewish  opinion  before  meeting  with  right-wing  Italian  politicians.  The 
resolution  warned  that  "the  theory  of  historical  revisionism  today  finds  grounds  for 
legitimization  in  the  creation  of  a  'gray  zone'  in  which  the  struggle  for  liberation 
and  Nazi-Fascism,  and  thus  democracy  and  barbarism,  are  being  placed  on  the  same 

Other  resolutions  dealt  with  financial  matters  and  fund-raising;  urged  decentrali- 
zation of  UCEI  activities;  reiterated  support  for  Israel  in  the  peace  process;  recom- 
mended a  solution  be  found  for  small  communities  that  have  no  rabbi  and  few 
Jewish  facilities;  proposed  plans  for  enhancing  Jewish  cultural  and  educational 
activities;  and  urged  greater  collaboration  between  the  Beth  Dins  (rabbinical  courts) 
in  Milan  and  Rome,  particularly  on  such  matters  as  dietary  laws  and  conversion. 
Resolutions  also  dealt  with  the  problems  (financial  and  other)  of  safeguarding  the 
Jewish  cultural  heritage  in  Italy,  suggested  compilation  of  a  catalogue  of  Jewish 
artistic  and  cultural  treasures,  and  urged  formal  coordination  among  the  growing 
number  of  Jewish  museums  in  Italy. 

The  year  1 994  saw  the  growth  of  Jewish  community  centers  in  Italy,  particularly 
the  center  in  Rome,  which  programmed  many  activities,  courses,  lectures,  and  social 
events.  There  was  also  a  strengthening  of  relations  and  activities  linking  Italian  Jews 
and  other  Jewish  communities  in  the  Mediterranean  region.  This  took  place  within 
the  framework  of  a  Mediterranean  regional  group  sponsored  by  the  European 
Council  of  Jewish  Communities  and  initiated  at  the  end  of  1993. 

Numerous  Jewish  organizations  of  all  types  operated  in  Italy.  These  included 
WIZO,  ORT,  Hashomer  Hatzair,  Keren  Hayesod-Hamagbith  (UJA),  Keren 
Kayemeth  Leisrael  (Jewish  National  Fund),  the  Union  of  Young  Zionists,  the 
Italian  Jewish  Youth  Federation,  the  Italian  Sephardic  Federation,  and  the  Martin 
Buber-Jews  for  Peace  group,  a  politically  active  organization  of  young  adults. 

In  addition,  there  were  organizations  specifically  dedicated  to  relations  between 
Italy  and  Italians,  Jewish  or  not,  and  Israel.  The  Federation  of  Italy-Israel  Associa- 
tions, founded  in  1989  to  spread  knowledge  of  Israel  in  Italy,  included  50  chapters 
throughout  the  country,  with  a  total  of  2,000  members.  The  Europe-Israel  Associa- 
tion, formed  informally  during  the  Gulf  War  to  disseminate  correct  information 
about  Israel,  was  officially  constituted  in  1992.  It  sponsored  a  wide  range  of  events 
and  initiatives  aimed  at  making  Israel  and  the  Jewish  experience  better  known  in 

Principal  Jewish  publications  included  Shalom,  the  magazine  of  the  Rome  Jewish 
community;  The  Bulletin  of  the  Milan  Jewish  community;  Ha  Kehilah ,  the  newslet- 
ter of  the  Turin  Jewish  community;  and  Rassegna  Mensile  d'Israel,  an  intellectual 
and  literary  monthly  published  in  Rome,  which  celebrated  its  70th  year  of  publica- 
tion in  1995. 

Italian  Jewish  communities  faced  a  number  of  challenges,  many  of  them  related 
to  the  small  size  of  the  community  as  a  whole.  An  officer  of  the  Rome  Jewish 
community  described  assimilation  and  intermarriage  as  a  "serious  problem,"  but 
said  that  many  children  of  mixed  marriages  were  brought  up  as  Jews.  (The  intermar- 

ITALY      /      273 

riage  rate  was  about  50  percent,  comparable  to  the  rest  of  Europe.)  In  March  1994, 
about  70  people  from  European  countries  and  Israel  took  part  in  a  strictly  kosher 
Jewish  singles  weekend  at  a  Milan  hotel,  organized  by  Armonia,  Italy's  first  Jewish 
matchmaking  organization,  set  up  18  months  earlier.  Among  many  other  Jewish 
youth  activities  sponsored  by  communities  and  organizations  was  a  gathering  of  70 
young  people  from  Rome,  Milan,  and  Barcelona  at  a  thermal  resort  in  Tuscany, 
April  29-May  1,  1995,  for  a  seminar  on  "Friendship  and  Sexuality,"  organized  by 
the  Jewish  community  of  Milan.  Speakers  included  a  rabbi,  a  doctor,  and  a  psychol- 


The  ritual  orientation  of  Italian  Jews  was  Orthodox,  with  communities  divided 
among  Ashkenazic,  Sephardic,  and  Italian  Jewish  rites.  Many  of  the  Sephardim  in 
today's  communities,  particularly  in  Rome  and  Milan,  immigrated  over  the  past  30 
years  from  North  Africa  and  the  Middle  East.  There  was  no  chief  rabbi  for  all  of 
Italy,  but  Rome's  chief  rabbi,  Elio  ToafF,  was  a  nationally  known  figure,  highly 
respected  among  non-Jews  as  well  as  Jews. 

Chabad  Lubavitch,  which  had  a  decades-long  presence  in  Italy,  became  accepted 
as  a  more  "mainstream"  part  of  the  Italian  Jewish  scene,  thanks  to  a  change  in 
policy  by  the  Italian  Rabbinical  Assembly,  which  accorded  a  seat  in  the  assembly 
to  a  Lubavitch  rabbi  and  sought  to  foster  better  relations.  Chabad's  activities  were 
mainly  in  Milan  and  Rome  (Chabad  marked  1 8  years  of  activity  in  Rome  with  a 
gala  dinner  in  March  1995).  In  Venice,  home  to  only  500  or  so  Jews,  a  Lubavitch 
rabbi  and  his  wife  had  opened  a  Chabad  house  in  the  Ghetto  in  the  early  '90s,  selling 
books  and  kosher  supplies.  During  Hanukkah,  they  set  up  a  huge  menorah  in  a 
gondola  and  took  it  around  Venice's  canals. 

Jewish-Catholic  Relations 

On  the  eve  of  Holocaust  Memorial  Day  (Yom  HaShoah),  on  April  7,  1994,  Pope 
John  Paul  II  hosted  an  unprecedented  concert  at  the  Vatican  to  commemorate  the 
Holocaust.  Some  7,500  people,  including  cardinals,  diplomats,  Jewish  Holocaust 
survivors,  and  numerous  political  and  religious  leaders,  attended  the  event  at  the 
modernistic  Pope  Paul  VI  Hall,  where  the  pope  holds  general  audiences,  and  mil- 
lions more  saw  it  on  international  television.  The  concert  was  conceived  and  con- 
ducted by  American  Jewish  maestro  Gilbert  Levine,  who  for  several  years  was 
conductor  of  the  Krakow  Philharmonic  in  Poland.  The  actor  Richard  Dreyfuss 
recited  Kaddish  in  an  excerpt  from  Leonard  Bernstein's  Kaddish  Symphony.  Other 
musical  works  performed  were  by  Beethoven,  Bruch,  and  Schubert.  At  the  conclu- 
sion of  the  concert  the  pope  spoke  eloquently  about  the  Holocaust  and  called  for 
a  long  moment  of  silence  in  commemoration 

Two  new  American  cardinals  appointed  by  the  pope  in  October  1994,  William 

274      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

Keeler  of  Baltimore  and  Adam  Maida  of  Detroit,  were  considered  friendly  to  the 
Jewish  community.  Keeler,  president  of  the  National  Conference  of  Catholic  Bish- 
ops, had  long  been  involved  in  Catholic-Jewish  dialogue. 

In  July  1 994,  the  pope  angered  and  perplexed  Jews  by  naming  former  Austrian 
president  Kurt  Waldheim  a  "papal  knight."  Waldheim,  a  former  secretary-general 
of  the  United  Nations,  was  a  Nazi  intelligence  officer  in  the  Balkans  during  World 
War  II  and  had  been  implicated  in  the  deportations  of  Jews  and  reprisal  killings  of 
anti-Nazi  partisans  in  the  region. 

On  the  occasion  of  the  Day  of  Christian- Jewish  Dialogue,  January  16,  1994,  a 
meeting  was  held  in  the  northern  city  of  Bergamo  to  launch  a  campaign  to  create 
a  forest  of  10,000  trees  in  Israel  in  memory  of  Pope  John  XXIII  and  Jules  Isaac, 
a  French  Jewish  historian  who  lost  his  family  in  the  Holocaust  and  who  after  the 
war  promoted  Christian-Jewish  dialogue.  The  meeting  was  sponsored  by  the  diocese 
of  Bergamo,  Keren  Kayemeth  Leisrael  (Jewish  National  Fund),  and  the  Federation 
of  Italy-Israel  Associations. 

The  year  1995  marked  the  30th  anniversary  of  the  landmark  Vatican  document 
"Nostra  Aetate,"  which  opened  the  way  to  modem  Catholic-Jewish  dialogue.  In 
February  1995,  American  Jewish  Committee  leaders  met  with  the  pope  at  the 
Vatican  to  mark  the  anniversary.  At  the  meeting  they  asked  him  to  issue  an  encycli- 
cal condemning  anti-Semitism. 

Holocaust-Related  Matters 

Educating  young  Italians  about  Judaism  and  recent  history,  including  the  Holo- 
caust and  World  War  II,  was  a  continuing  concern  of  Italian  Jews.  In  early  1995, 
a  survey  of  1,000  Italian  young  people  between  the  ages  of  16  and  24,  carried  out 
by  the  Italian  Federation  of  Psychologists  and  the  Jewish  Museum  in  Casale, 
showed  them  to  be  ignorant  of  recent  history,  including  the  Holocaust  and  Italy's 
World  War  II  experience.  According  to  reports  of  the  survey  published  in  the  Italian 
press,  28  percent  of  those  questioned  thought  a  "pogrom"  was  a  Jewish  holiday, 
nearly  12  percent  thought  it  was  a  Jewish  prayer,  and  only  4  percent  knew  what 
it  really  was.  Only  a  little  more  than  38  percent  knew  that  there  had  been  racist 
anti-Semitic  laws  in  Italy  during  World  War  II.  About  half  the  young  people  said 
they  would  like  to  know  more  about  history.  They  blamed  their  lack  of  knowledge 
on  schools  and  mass  communication. 

To  this  end,  two  videos  were  produced  to  help  teachers  educate  high-school 
students  about  Judaism,  the  Jewish  experience,  and  the  Holocaust  and  motivate 
them  to  oppose  anti-Semitism  and  racism.  The  first,  a  70-minute  film  entitled  "Who 
Are  the  Jews,"  was  prepared  by  the  Ministry  of  Education  and  the  Union  of  Italian 
Jewish  Communities  and  released  in  February  1994.  It  was  prepared  as  part  of  a 
package  of  other  course  material  and  documentation.  The  second  was  a  20-minute 
film  in  the  form  of  a  music  video  entitled  "Vernichtung  Baby"  (Extermination 
Baby),  which  used  rap  and  rock  music,  computer  graphics,  and  fast-cut  film  clips 

ITALY      /      275 

in  music-video  style  to  teach  about  the  Holocaust  in  Italy  and  warn  that  racism 
could  happen  again.  Prepared  by  the  Lazio  Region  and  the  Union  of  Italian  Jewish 
Communities,  it  was  unveiled  in  April  1995  at  a  one-day  seminar  for  educators  in 
Rome  on  teaching  about  the  Holocaust  and  anti-Semitism. 

In  addition  to  these  videos,  the  Contemporary  Jewish  Documentation  Center  in 
Milan  (CDEC)  maintained  a  large  video  library  of  commercial  and  documentary 
films  on  the  Jewish  experience  and  the  Holocaust,  which  it  made  available  to 


A  growing  interest  in  Judaism  and  Jewish  culture  among  non-Jewish  Itahans  was 
reflected  in  the  publication  of  numerous  books  on  Jewish  topics  and  the  presentation 
of  many  concerts,  plays,  exhibitions,  and  other  cultural  events  with  Jewish  themes. 
Newspapers  and  magazines  published  many  articles  on  Jewish  and  Holocaust 
themes,  and  there  was  ample  coverage  of  commemorative  events  related  to  the  50th 
anniversary  of  the  end  of  World  War  II.  There  were  also  a  number  of  conferences 
and  seminars  on  issues  related  to  Judaism,  Jewish  culture,  Israel,  and  the  Middle 

On  March  9,  1994,  "La  Tutela  dei  Beni  Culturale  Ebraici,"  a  major  conference 
on  the  care  and  management  of  Jewish  cultural  monuments,  Judaica  objects,  ar- 
chives, archaeological  remains,  and  the  like,  took  place  in  Bologna  under  the  aus- 
pices of  the  Institute  for  Cultural  Heritage  of  the  Emilia-Romagna  Region,  the 
Union  of  Italian  Jewish  Communities,  the  city  of  Bologna,  the  Italian  Senate,  and 
the  Italian  Culture  Ministry.  The  conference  discussed  a  wide  range  of  topics, 
including  the  current  lack  of  nationwide  coordination  of  activities  aimed  at  preserv- 
ing Jewish  relics  and  the  issue  of  the  Jewish  catacombs  in  Rome.  There  was  also 
a  major  conference  on  the  Jewish  history  of  Pisa.  One  of  the  most  important 
conferences  on  Italian  Jewry  took  place  in  London  at  the  end  of  April  1995.  Held 
under  the  auspices  of  the  Institute  of  Jewish  Studies,  University  College,  London, 
the  three-day  international  conference  on  "The  Jews  of  Italy,  Memory  and  Iden- 
tity," examined  the  history,  archaeology,  and  culture  of  the  Jewish  communities. 

In  February  1995,  a  gala  ceremony  took  place  in  the  little  Tuscan  hilltown  of 
Pitigliano  to  rededicate  the  totally  reconstructed  Baroque  synagogue.  Originally 
buih  in  1598,  the  synagogue  collapsed  after  World  War  II.  Reconstruction,  funded 
by  the  municipality,  took  nearly  ten  years.  The  structure  will  serve  as  a  Jewish 
museum  but  also  will  remain  consecrated  as  a  house  of  worship.  Pitigliano  had  an 
important  Jewish  community  from  the  16th  century  until  the  war,  but  only  a 
handful  of  Jews  live  there  now.  Also  in  February,  a  ceremony  unveiled  a  plaque 
commemorating  the  Jewish  presence  in  the  small  town  of  Lugo  di  Romagna,  near 

Moni  Ovadia,  a  Milan-based  Jewish  performer  whose  cabaret-style  musicals  em- 
ploy Yiddish  culture  and  lore,  won  rave  reviews  with  two  shows — Oylem  Goylem 

276      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

in  1994  and  Dybbuk  in  the  spring  of  1995 — and  there  were  numerous  other  per- 
formances by  a  variety  of  Itahan  and  foreign  performers  on  Jewish  themes.  They 
included  Pitchipoi,  Stones  from  the  Warsaw  Ghetto,  whose  national  premiere  was 
May  3,  1995,  in  the  central  Italian  city  of  Terni,  and  a  concert  of  Catalan  Jewish 
songs  sung  by  Lidia  Pujol  in  Rome  in  March  1995. 

The  numerous  Jewish-interest  exhibits  included  an  exhibition  of  Jewish  book 
plates  that  opened  in  September  11,  1994,  in  Soncino,  site  of  Italy's  most  famous 
Hebrew  publishing  house.  A  major  exhibition  on  racism  and  anti-Semitism  under 
fascism,  "La  Menzogna  della  Razza,  documenti  e  immagini  del  razzismo  e  dell 
antisemitismo  fascista,"  was  shown  in  Bologna  the  last  three  months  of  1994  and 
then  traveled  to  other  cities.  A  major  exhibition  on  the  Dreyfus  affair  opened  in 
Rome  in  December  1994  and  then  traveled  to  Forh.  More  than  100,000  people  saw 
a  big  exhibition  of  Marc  Chagall's  works  in  Milan  in  early  1995,  and  in  February 
1995,  the  Bordone  gallery  in  Milan  hosted  an  installation  on  Auschwitz  by  German 
artist  Joachim  Seinfeld. 


Well  over  100  books  on  Jewish  topics  were  pubhshed  in  1994/early  1995.  They 
included  fiction,  poetry,  history,  sociology,  religion.  Holocaust  and  other  memoirs, 
and  art  books,  by  Italian  authors  as  well  as  translations  of  Israeli  and  other  foreign 
Jewish  writers.  Among  them  were  several  books  detailing  the  art  and  history  of 
Jewish  communities  in  specific  Italian  towns  and  regions. 

Rome  chief  rabbi  Elio  ToafFs  book  Essere  Ebreo  (To  Be  a  Jew)  became  a  major 
best-seller,  and  La  Sinistra  e  Gli  Ebrei  in  Italia  (The  Left  and  the  Jews  in  Italy), 
by  Maurizio  Molinari  (1995),  raised  important  political  issues.  Erri  De  Luca'snew 
translation  of  the  Book  of  Exodus  was  also  a  big  success. 


Chief  Rabbi  Elio  Toaff  was  feted  on  his  80th  birthday  with  ceremonies,  tributes, 
and  celebrations,  including  a  gala  ceremony  on  May  14,  1995,  at  Rome's  city  hall, 
the  Campidogho,  hosted  by  Rome  mayor  Francesco  RuteUi.  Italian  president  Oscar 
Luigi  Scalfaro  conferred  on  Toaff  the  award  of  Knight  of  the  Great  Cross  of  the 
Italian  Republic  to  mark  the  occasion. 

At  a  solemn  ceremony  at  Rome's  city  hall  in  May  1995,  five  Itahans  were  honored 
by  Israel  as  Righteous  Gentiles  for  rescuing  Jews  during  World  War  II. 

Two  non-Jews  who  died  in  1994  had  a  special  relationship  with  Jews  and  Israel. 
Former  Prime  Minister  Giovanni  Spadohni,  a  longtime  leader  of  the  Republican 
Party,  died  of  cancer  August  4,  1994,  at  the  age  of  69.  A  journalist  and  historian 
who  turned  pohtician,  in  1981  he  became  Italy's  first  prime  minister  who  did  not 
come  from  the  Christian  Democratic  party.  He  held  various  other  government 
positions  and  served  as  president  of  the  Senate  from  1987  until  early  1994.  In 

ITALY      /      277 

writings,  speeches,  and  other  activities  throughout  his  career,  Spadolini  staunchly 
defended  Israel,  often  representing  a  minority  view  among  Italy's  political  leader- 
ship, who  were  largely  pro-Arab.  He  visited  Israel  often  and  had  close  ties  with 
Italy's  Jewish  community.  The  Federation  of  Italy-Israel  Associations  launched  a 
drive  to  raise  funds  for  a  forest  in  Spadolini's  name  in  Israel. 

Guelfo  Zamboni,  an  Italian  diplomat  who  saved  nearly  300  Jews  during  World 
War  II  by  giving  them  false  papers,  died  in  Rome  in  March  1994,  at  the  age  of  97. 
As  Italian  consul  in  Salonika  in  1943,  under  Nazi  occupation,  he  was  able  to  provide 
documents  enabling  280  Jews  to  flee  to  Athens,  which  was  under  Italian  military 
occupation,  thus  saving  them  from  deportation  to  Auschwitz.  In  October  1992, 
Israeli  ambassador  to  Italy  Avi  Pazner  conferred  on  Zamboni  the  medal  of  honor 
from  Yad  Vashem,  and  280  trees  were  planted  in  Jerusalem,  one  for  each  of  the  Jews 
he  saved. 

Ruth  Ellen  Gruber 

Central  and  Eastern  Europe 

Federal  Republic  of  Germany 

National  Affairs 

A  HE  PERIOD  1994  THROUGH  the  first  half  of  1995  was  marked  by  a 
number  of  significant  events.  Germany's  ruling  conservative  coalition  survived  a 
turbulent  election  in  1994,  but  lost  ground  to  center-left  parties.  Far-right  parties 
became  politically  insignificant,  due  to  dropping  voter  support  and  internal  strife. 
The  pullout  of  most  foreign  troops  from  German  soil  gave  new  political  weight  to 
unified  Germany,  prompting  the  government  to  start  redefining  the  country's  inter- 
national role.  The  country's  worst  postwar  recession  ended,  but  recovery  was  un- 
even, and  unemployment  remained  at  close  to  10  percent.  Finally,  a  multitude  of 
50th-anniversary  commemoration  ceremonies  marked  the  last  stages  of  World  War 
II  and  Germany's  defeat  and  surrender. 

In  the  summer  of  1994,  all  Russian  troops  withdrew  from  Germany,  and  the 
Western  allied  troops  pulled  out  of  Berlin.  In  July,  U.S.  president  Bill  Clinton  visited 
Germany  to  assure  the  Germans  of  the  strength  of  the  U.S.-German  partnership. 
In  Berlin,  Clinton  visited  the  reconstructed  New  Synagogue  in  the  eastern  part  of 
the  city  (see  "Religion,"  below). 


The  growing  interest  in  recent  years  in  Germany's  Nazi  past  was  reflected  in  the 
thousands  of  commemorative  events  marking  the  50th  anniversary  ofthe  end  of  the 
war,  including  events  related  to  the  destruction  of  the  Jews.  Lectures,  exhibitions, 
concerts,  panel  discussions,  and  official  ceremonies  were  organized  by  government 
authorities  as  well  as  by  private  groups.  There  was  also  extensive  media  coverage 
of  events,  including  hundreds  of  radio  and  television  programs  focusing  on  the 
Holocaust  and  Jewish  topics.  This  led  some  observers  to  express  concern  that  the 
volume  of  programs  could  lead  to  oversaturation,  alienating  instead  of  informmg 
the  audience. 

The  commemorations  began  in  December  1993,  with  a  seminar  to  mark  the  30th 


FEDERAL     REPUBLIC    OF    GERMANY      /      279 

anniversary  of  the  Auschwitz  trials  held  in  Frankfurt  between  1963  and  1965.  The 
seminar,  organized  by  the  Fritz  Bauer  Institute,  was  held  in  the  same  civic  center 
in  the  Frankfurt  city  district  of  Gallus  where  the  trials  were  held.  Numerous 
Auschwitz  survivors  shared  their  experience  as  witnesses  at  the  mass  trial  of  former 
Auschwitz  personnel,  describing  a  climate  in  Germany  at  the  time  of  the  trial  of 
indifference  and  silence.  During  the  conference,  a  monument  by  Michael  Sander  was 
unveiled  in  front  of  the  civic  center — a  steel  stele  symbolizing  the  fences  and 
smokestacks  of  Auschwitz. 

On  August  1,  1994,  on  the  50th  anniversary  of  the  uprising  against  the  Nazis  by 
the  people  of  Warsaw,  German  president  Roman  Herzog  apologized  to  the  Polish 
people  for  German  atrocities  committed  during  the  war.  At  a  ceremony  in  Warsaw, 
Herzog  said  it  filled  Germans  with  shame  that  their  nation  and  people  would  forever 
be  linked  to  the  pain  and  suffering  inflicted  a  millionfold  upon  the  Poles. 

On  January  26,  1995,  the  German  Parliament  marked  the  50th  anniversary  of  the 
liberation  of  Auschwitz.  Chancellor  Helmut  Kohl  termed  the  Nazi  era  "the  darkest 
and  most  horrible  chapter  in  German  history."  German  president  Roman  Herzog 
attended  the  commemoration  in  Poland,  at  Auschwitz,  on  January  27.  There  were 
Jewish-Pohsh  tensions  over  the  official  Polish  ceremony,  which  did  not  emphasize 
Jewish  suffering,  and  Herzog  instead  attended  the  parallel  Jewish  memorial  service 
at  Birkenau. 

The  German  Catholic  bishops  issued  a  statement  in  connection  with  the  anniver- 
sary, acknowledging  that  Catholics  share  guilt  for  the  extermination  of  the  Jews. 
They  asserted  that  the  historical  anti-Jewish  stance  among  many  in  the  Church 
"contributed  to  the  fact  that  Christians  during  the  Third  Reich  did  not  put  up 
adequate  resistance  to  the  racist  ideology  of  anti-Semitism."  The  bishops  called  for 
a  reexamination  of  relations  between  Catholics  and  Jews,  stressing  Pope  John  Paul 
II's  message  that  anti-Semitism  is  a  sin  against  God  and  humanity. 

In  Frankfurt,  the  Fritz  Bauer  Institute  organized  an  intensive  two-week  program 
of  Holocaust  remembrance  on  the  occasion  of  the  Auschwitz  anniversary.  Almost 
all  events,  including  concerts,  discussions  with  survivors,  films,  and  lectures,  were 
sold  out.  At  the  central  ceremony  in  the  Frankfurt  Schauspielhaus  on  January  29, 
German  pariiamentary  president  Rita  Siissmuth  told  the  audience,  "There  must  not 
be  and  can  not  be  an  end  to  remembrance."  Those  who  deny  the  Holocaust,  she  said, 
"extinguish  the  suffering  of  the  victims  and  rob  them  even  after  their  death  of  their 

An  interdisciphnary  colloquium,  "Echo  of  the  Holocaust,"  was  organized  by  the 
University  of  Hamburg's  education  department  on  January  24-26,  1995,  drawing 
more  than  a  thousand  participants.  Scholars  and  museum  educators  from  the 
United  States,  Israel,  and  Western  Europe  presented  current  research  on  the  Holo- 

The  commemoration  of  the  liberation  of  concentration  camps  on  German  soil 
began  April  8,  1995,  at  Buchenwald,  with  hundreds  of  former  prisoners  and  U.S. 
army  veterans  attending  the  ceremony.  The  first  large-scale  monument  in  Germany 

280      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH     YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

to  the  half  million  Sinti  and  Roma  (Gypsies)  murdered  by  the  Nazis  during  World 
War  II  was  unveiled  at  the  site.  A  new,  more  comprehensive  exhibition  on  the 
history  of  Buchenwald  was  also  opened,  dealing  with  camp  life,  resistance  efforts, 
and  collaboration  with  camp  authorities.  The  exhibition  includes  a  1943  telephone 
book  from  the  nearby  city  of  Weimar  with  the  entry  "Konzentrationslager  Buchen- 
wald" ("Concentration  Camp  Buchenwald"). 

The  weekend  of  April  22,  more  than  20,000  people — including  more  than  3,000 
former  prisoners — commemorated  the  liberation  of  the  Ravensbriick,  Sachsen- 
hausen,  and  Flossenbiirg  camps.  Speakers  at  the  different  ceremonies  called  for 
tolerance,  civil  courage,  and  active  remembrance  of  the  crimes  of  the  Nazis. 

The  central  German  government  event  in  honor  of  concentration-camp  victims 
was  a  ceremony  in  Bergen-Belsen  on  April  27,  coinciding  with  Yom  Hashoah,  the 
Jewish  Holocaust  Memorial  Day.  More  than  6,000  visitors  attended.  Ignatz  Bubis, 
head  of  the  Central  Council  of  Jews  in  Germany,  thanked  individuals  who  had 
helped  Nazi  victims  to  survive,  as  well  as  the  AUies  who  Hberated  Germany  at  the 
cost  of  many  of  their  own  as  well  as  many  German  lives.  President  Roman  Herzog 
and  former  Israeli  president  Chaim  Herzog — who  was  an  officer  in  the  British  army 
unit  that  Hberated  Bergen-Belsen — were  also  among  the  speakers. 

About  5,000  people  attended  the  commemoration  at  Dachau  on  May  1,  and  on 
May  4  about  800  former  prisoners  gathered  at  the  former  camp  at  Neuengamme, 
near  Hamburg.  In  addition  to  official  government  events  on  Holocaust  commemora- 
tion, there  were  numerous  private  initiatives.  In  Passau,  for  instance,  local  historian 
Anna  Rosmus  organized  a  return  on  May  1-3  of  former  Passau  Jewish  residents, 
as  well  as  inmates  and  U.S.  liberators  of  the  forced-labor  camp  in  Pocking-Passau. 


The  spring  of  1995  saw  a  bitter  political  debate  about  whether  May  8 — the  date 
of  German  surrender — symboHzed  defeat  for  the  Germans  or  Hberation  from  fas- 
cism. A  group  of  leading  conservative  politicians  and  intellectuals,  including  mem- 
bers of  the  right-wing  Republican  Party,  published  a  manifesto  arguing  that  May 
8  was  a  day  of  liberation  only  for  those  persecuted  by  the  Nazis.  They  claimed  that 
for  most  Germans,  May  8  meant  the  division  of  the  country,  the  onset  of  Communist 
rule,  and  the  expulsion  of  12  million  ethnic  Germans  from  Eastern  Europe.  How- 
ever, a  poll  conducted  in  April  by  the  Mannheim  Forschungsgruppe  Wahlen  found 
that  80  percent  of  Germans  (and  87  percent  of  those  under  30)  regarded  May  8  as 
a  symbol  of  liberation  rather  than  of  defeat. 

May  8,  1995,  the  50th  anniversary  of  VE  Day,  of  Nazi  Germany's  defeat  by  the 
Allies,  was  marked  by  a  state  ceremony  at  the  Berlin  Schauspielhaus,  attended  by 
U.S.  vice-president  Al  Gore,  British  prime  minister  John  Major,  French  president 
Francois  Mitterrand,  Russian  prime  minister  Viktor  Chernomyrdin,  German  presi- 
dent Roman  Herzog,  and  German  chancellor  Helmut  Kohl.  (Bonn  had  rebuffed  an 
invitation  request  from  Polish  president  Lech  Walesa,  who  pointed  out — with  some 

FEDERAL     REPUBLIC    OF    GERMANY      /      281 

justification — that  Polish  forces  under  Allied  command  had  played  a  significant  role 
in  helping  to  defeat  Germany.  The  diplomatic  rift  was  settled  when  Polish  foreign 
minister  Wladyslaw  Bartoszewski,  a  survivor  of  Auschwitz,  was  invited  to  address 
the  German  Bundestag  in  late  April.) 

At  the  ceremony  on  May  8,  President  Herzog  said  that  Germans  were  fully  aware 
of  their  responsibility  for  the  Holocaust.  The  Germans  did  not  become  democrats 
overnight,  he  said,  but  they  had  matured  to  become  reliable  and  peaceful  partners 
in  Europe  and  in  the  world.  In  a  newspaper  interview  several  weeks  later,  Herzog 
announced  that  the  "fight  against  forgetting,"  referring  to  the  Holocaust,  would 
remain  one  of  the  central  tasks  of  his  remaining  four  years  in  office. 

Also  on  May  8,  at  the  Berlin  city  hall,  federal  and  state  officials  announced  that 
a  "House  of  Memory"  would  be  built  on  the  Prinz-Albrecht-Gelaende,  site  of  the 
former  SS  headquarters  in  Berlin.  The  building,  by  Swiss  architect  Peter  Zumthor, 
would  house  exhibitions  and  archives  relating  to  Nazi  victims.  Since  1987,  there  had 
been  a  temporary  exhibition  on  the  site  called  "The  Topography  of  Terror." 

In  Berlin,  the  50th-anniversary  events  to  commemorate  the  end  of  World  War 
II  began  on  May  7,  with  a  peace  march.  Several  thousand  demonstrators  marched 
through  the  Scheunenviertel,  Berlin's  traditional  Jewish  quarter.  The  same  day,  the 
19th-century  New  Synagogue  in  Berlin  was  reopened  after  seven  years  of  recon- 
struction work  (see  "Religion,"  below).  The  more  than  3,000  guests  at  the  opening 
ceremonies  included  former  Jewish  residents  of  Berlin,  as  well  as  dignitaries  such 
as  Chancellor  Kohl  and  President  Herzog.  Josef  Burg,  the  former  Israeli  interior 
minister,  who  was  born  in  Berlin,  talked  about  the  long  history  of  Jews  in  Germany. 
Berlin  mayor  Eberhard  Diepgen  said  the  contribution  of  Jews  to  Berlin  was  an 
inextricable  part  of  the  city's  history. 

Chancellor  Kohl  attended  VE-Day  ceremonies  in  London,  Paris,  and  Moscow. 
The  invitations  came  after  the  German  government  had  signaled  its  displeasure  at 
being  shut  out  of  D-Day  ceremonies  in  June  1994  in  France.  Shortly  before  his 
arrival  in  London,  Kohl  caused  a  stir  among  Jewish  organizations  and  veterans 
groups  with  a  written  statement  that  made  little  distinction  between  the  suffering 
of  Jewish  concentration  camp  prisoners,  German  soldiers,  and  expellees  from  East- 
ern Europe. 

In  Moscow,  on  May  9,  Chancellor  Kohl  made  a  clearer  statement  about  German 
responsibility  for  the  war  than  in  the  statement  issued  prior  to  his  arrival  in  London. 
He  said,  "The  historical  responsibility  remains:  The  National  Socialist  regime  in 
Germany  launched  the  Second  World  War.  It  planned  and  executed  a  campaign  of 
annihilation,  first  directed  against  Poland,  then  in  the  genocide  of  European  Jewry." 

Israel  and  the  Middle  East 

Although  the  30-year  diplomatic  relationship  between  Germany  and  Israel  was 
marked  with  great  ceremony  in  1995,  and  included  visits  to  Israel  by  the  German 
president,  pariiamentary  president,  and  chancellor,  the  relationship  was  still  far 

282      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

from  normal.  The  Israeli  government  did  not  send  a  representative  to  attend  May 
8  commemoration  ceremonies  in  Germany — despite  an  invitation  from  Chancellor 
Helmut  Kohl  to  Israeli  president  Ezer  Weizman — undoubtedly  because  anti-Ger- 
man sentiments  remain  strong  in  Israel,  home  to  about  300,000  Holocaust  survivors. 
However,  there  was  widespread  coverage  in  Israel  of  ceremonies  in  Germany  to 
mark  the  50th  anniversary  of  the  liberation  of  the  concentration  camps,  and  in  May 
1995,  the  Hebrew  University  held  a  well-attended  four-day  symposium  on  National 
Socialism,  with  presentations  by  German  and  Israeli  historians. 

Although  the  shadow  of  the  past  was  an  inevitable  presence,  Israeli  diplomats 
sought  to  improve  relations  with  Germany,  whom  they  viewed  as  Israel's  most 
important  economic  and  political  partner  in  Europe. 

In  October  1994,  Foreign  Minister  Klaus  Kinkel  traveled  to  Israel.  In  December, 
the  newly  elected  German  president,  Roman  Herzog,  made  a  brief  visit,  demonstra- 
tively choosing  Israel  as  the  site  of  his  first  trip  outside  Europe.  Herzog  emphasized 
Germany's  special  responsibility  to  Israel,  trying  to  counteract  the  continuing  mis- 
trust in  Israel  of  unified  Germany.  The  trip  was  praised  by  most  Israeli  media. 

In  May  1995,  members  of  the  environmental  Green  Party  visited  Israel  and  the 
West  Bank.  Previous  trips  of  the  left-wing  party  had  ended  disastrously,  because  of 
the  open  sympathy  of  some  delegation  members  for  the  Palestinians.  But  this  trip, 
headed  by  the  party's  pragmatic  parliamentary  leader,  Joschka  Fischer,  was  more 
successful.  During  a  visit  to  Yad  Vashem,  Fischer  emphasized  that  Germany  must 
keep  the  books  open  on  Holocaust  remembrance,  and  comments  by  delegation 
members  on  the  peace  process  were  considered  more  balanced  than  in  previous 
years.  Representatives  of  Holocaust  survivor  groups  thanked  the  Green  Party  for 
its  help  in  trying  to  settle  unresolved  compensation  claims. 

In  June  1995,  the  Hebrew  University  of  Jerusalem  dedicated  the  Helmut  Kohl 
Institute  for  European  Studies,  a  sign  of  the  growing  importance  of  Europe — and 
Germany — for  Israel's  future.  Kohl  was  also  awarded  an  honorary  doctorate  by 
Ben-Gurion  University  in  Beer  Sheba.  Kohl  was  accompanied  on  the  trip  by  leading 
German  businessmen,  who  until  this  time  had  made  almost  no  investments  in  Israel. 
There  was  a  breakthough  on  the  trip  when  representatives  of  Volkswagen  signed  an 
agreement  to  set  up  a  magnesium  production  factory  with  the  Dead  Sea  Works  and 
a  magnesium  research  institute  in  Beer  Sheba  at  Ben-Gurion  University. 

During  his  visit.  Kohl  promised  to  try  and  reduce  European  trade  barriers  for 
Israel.  A  point  of  disagreement  during  the  visit  was  German-Iranian  relations,  with 
Kohl  denying  that  Germany  delivered  weapons  to  Teheran  and  defending  ties  to 
Iran  as  the  best  means  of  reaching  peaceful  solutions  with  the  Islamic  state.  Israeh 
prime  minister  Yitzhak  Rabin  and  Kohl  agreed  to  have  more  frequent  telephone 
contact,  as  a  step  toward  improving  intergovernmental  ties.  Israeli  officials  also 
pressed  Germany  to  take  a  more  active  role  in  the  Mideast  peace  process,  which  so 
far  had  been  limited  largely  to  the  opening  of  a  diplomatic  office  in  Jericho  in  August 
1994.  Kohl  visited  Yasir  Arafat  during  the  trip,  which  began  with  stops  in  Egypt 
and  Jordan. 

FEDERAL     REPUBLIC    OF    GERMANY      /      283 

The  Israeli  government  was  upset  with  Bonn  when  the  German  press  reported 
in  February  1995  that  Germany  was  trying  to  free  long-missing  Israeli  aviator  Ron 
Arad  from  prison  in  Iran.  The  Israelis  felt  the  negotiations  should  be  kept  secret. 
Shortly  after  the  story  broke,  Israeli  prime  minister  Rabin  flew  to  Bonn  for  an 
unannounced  meeting  with  Chancellor  Kohl. 

In  July  1994  an  Israeli  army  chief  of  staff  visited  Germany  for  the  first  time,  on 
an  invitation  from  German  chief  of  staff  Klaus  Naumann.  Gen.  Ehud  Barak  in- 
cluded Sachsenhausen  on  his  tour,  where  he  called  on  German  politicians  to  "stop 
with  an  iron  hand"  all  forms  of  anti-Semitism,  neo-Nazism,  and  nationalism. 

Anti-Semitism  and  Extremism 

For  the  second  consecutive  year,  there  was  a  decline  in  right-wing  violence, 
according  to  the  Office  for  the  Protection  of  the  Constitution.  In  1994,  1,489  violent 
attacks  were  attributed  to  right-wing  extremists,  down  from  2,232  in  1993.  The  large 
majority  of  the  attacks  were  against  foreigners  and  minorities,  but  41  were  against 
Jewish  targets. 

The  most  alarming  incidents  for  the  Jewish  community  were  two  firebombing 
attacks  on  the  synagogue  in  Liibeck.  The  first,  the  night  of  March  24,  1994,  caused 
considerable  damage  to  the  two  front  rooms  of  the  synagogue.  The  next  day, 
thousands  of  local  residents  gathered  spontaneously  to  protest  the  attack,  the  first 
synagogue  burning  in  Germany  since  the  Nazi  era. 

In  late  April  1994,  four  young  male  suspects,  all  from  broken  homes  in  a  poorer 
district  of  Liibeck,  were  arrested.  During  the  trial,  they  eventually  confessed  and 
were  convicted  of  arson,  receiving  sentences  of  between  two-and-a-half  and  four- 
and-a-half  years.  The  court  ruled  that  there  was  insufficient  proof  to  convict  them 
of  attempted  murder.  The  nearby  Hamburg  Jewish  community,  among  others, 
criticized  the  ruling  as  insufficient. 

On  May  7,  1995,  there  was  a  renewed  arson  attack  on  the  same  synagogue,  and 
an  adjoining  shed  burned  down.  No  immediate  arrests  were  made  in  the  case.  Jewish 
leaders  said  the  attack  may  have  been  planned  to  coincide  with  the  opening  the  same 
day  of  the  reconstructed  New  Synagogue  in  Berlin. 

In  one  of  the  few  cases  of  anti-Semitic-motivated  violence,  in  February  1 994  three 
people  were  convicted  of  murder  and  sentenced  by  the  Wuppertal  court  to  8  to  14 
years  in  prison.  The  three  were  accused  of  murdering  a  man  in  a  bar  in  1992  who 
said  he  was  Jewish,  although  he  was  not. 

Nonviolent  anti-Semitic  incidents  increased  dramatically.  Federal  authorities  re- 
ported 1,366  anti-Semitic  propaganda  offenses  in  1994,  more  than  double  the  num- 
ber of  the  previous  year.  Most  of  the  incidents  involved  the  distribution  of  anti- 
Semitic  literature  and  hate  letters  against  Jews.  Law-enforcement  authorities 
attributed  the  rise  in  part  to  increased  awareness  of  anti-Semitic  propaganda  and 
a  greater  readiness  to  report  its  existence.  For  instance,  numerous  complaints  were 
filed  after  an  85-page  anti-Semitic  brochure  entitled  German  Manifest  was  mailed 

284      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

to  hundreds  of  public  figures.  Prosecutors  believed  the  pamphlet  was  written  by  a 
69-year-old  Essen  man  who  claimed  to  be  a  former  SS  officer. 

Helping  to  put  these  events  somewhat  in  perspective,  the  Aliensbach  Institute  of 
Opinion  Research  reported  in  September  1994  that  anti-Semitism  in  Germany  had 
steadily  declined  since  the  end  of  World  War  II.  In  1949,  every  third  German  still 
held  strong  anti-Semitic  beliefs.  In  1994,  15  percent  of  the  population  was  anti- 
Semitic,  according  to  the  most  recent  poll,  which  had  not  yet  been  published.  The 
institute  said  older  people  are  more  anti-Semitic  than  younger  Germans. 

Attacks  on  former  concentration  camps  continued.  In  July  1994,  at  Buchenwald, 
a  group  of  23  drunken  right-wing  extremists  destroyed  display  cases  and  threatened 
an  employee.  There  was  public  outrage  at  the  lack  of  intervention  by  police,  and 
disciplinary  measures  were  later  taken  against  several  policemen.  All  23  hooligans 
were  indicted  on  charges  of  property  damage,  illegal  display  of  Nazi  symbols,  and 
breaching  the  peace.  As  of  mid-1995,  three  trials  resulted  in  16  convictions.  One 
young  man  was  sentenced  to  one  year  and  eight  months  in  jail,  the  others  received 
suspended  sentences  or  juvenile  detention. 

The  three  major  right-wing  political  parties — the  Republicans,  the  German  Peo- 
ple's Union,  and  the  National  Democratic  Party  of  Germany — had  jointly  lost 
nearly  10,000  members  since  1993  (according  to  the  1994  Report  of  the  Office  for 
the  Protection  of  the  Constitution).  Their  combined  total  membership  was  44,500. 
In  their  1995  annual  report  on  constitutional  threats,  federal  intelligence  authorities 
for  the  first  time  designated  the  Republican  Party  as  extreme  right-wing,  with 
anticonstitutional  views. 

The  ebb  in  right-wing  voter  support  could  be  explained  by  several  factors.  One 
was  the  lower  number  of  refugees  coming  to  Germany — "foreigners"  were  a  major 
source  of  irritation  to  the  right — as  a  result  of  the  1993  constitutional  amendment 
restricting  political  asylum.  Another  was  the  greater  eflFort  by  German  authorities 
to  crack  down  on  right-wing  extremism.  Since  November  1992,  11  right-wing 
parties  and  organizations  had  been  banned  by  state  and  federal  authorities.  The 
value  of  such  banning  was  disputed,  however.  Supporters  saw  it  as  an  important 
signal  that  extreme  right-wing  ideology  was  unacceptable  to  a  democratic  society. 
Critics,  including  many  law-enforcement  officials,  charged  that  banning  forced 
groups  underground,  where  they  were  harder  to  monitor.  The  1994  Report  of  the 
Office  for  the  Protection  of  the  Constitution  noted  a  slight  drop  in  the  number  of 
militant  right-wing  extremists  (5,600  to  5,400),  but  an  increase  in  the  number  of 
active  neo-Nazis  (an  estimated  3,000,  up  from  1,700). 

In  place  of  registered  organizations,  a  loosely  affiliated  cell  structure  had  emerged 
among  neo-Nazis,  raising  concern  about  a  potential  right-wing  terrorist  network,  in 
which  groups  and  individuals  communicate  through  electronic  mail  boxes,  mobile 
telephones,  and  telephone  information  networks.  An  increasingly  popular  meeting 
place  was  skinhead  rock  concerts,  registered  as  private  parties  in  order  to  circum- 
vent authorities.  Federal  authorities  estimated  that  there  were  at  least  40  right-wing 

FEDERAL    REPUBLIC    OF    GERMANY      /      285 

Right-wing  music  publications  and  other  neo-Nazi  propaganda  literature  was 
flourishing,  much  of  it  printed  in  countries  like  Denmark,  Spain,  and  the  United 
States,  where  laws  do  not  forbid  publishing  hate  literature.  In  March  1995,  Danish 
authorities  arrested  a  major  publisher  of  right-wing  material,  U.S.  neo-Nazi  Gary 
Lauck,  and  were  considering  an  extradition  request  from  Germany,  where  Lauck 
was  wanted  for  the  dissemination  of  hate  literature.  In  general,  German  authorities 
were  pushing  for  more  international  cooperation  in  the  fight  against  neo-Nazi 

A  disturbing  development  was  the  publication  of  "hit  lists."  The  neo-Nazi  maga- 
zine Einblick  published  names  and  addresses  of  more  than  200  opponents  of  right- 
wing  ideology,  encouraging  the  use  of  violence  against  political  opponents.  Two  men 
were  sentenced  to  prison  for  publishing  the  list,  one  for  two  years,  the  other  for  one 

Public  discussion  about  the  causes  of  right-wing  extremism  started  to  focus  on 
the  concept  of  nationhood  being  expressed  by  some  conservative  and  neoconserva- 
tive  intellectuals.  Among  these  were  German  novelist  Martin  Walser,  who  called 
right-wing  extremism  "the  answer  to  our  neglect  of  nationalism,"  playwright  Botho 
Strauss,  who  criticized  the  antiauthoritarianism  of  the  left,  and  Rainer  Zitelmann, 
a  former  Maoist  who  now  wrote  for  the  conservative  daily  newspaper  Die  Welt. 
Numerous  law-enforcement  officials  expressed  concern  that  the  new  right  provided 
a  socially  acceptable  sanction  for  extreme  right-wing  activities. 

Holocaust-Related  Matters 

A  1994  poll  commissioned  by  the  American  Jewish  Committee  (conducted  by  the 
Emnid  Institute)  showed  that  factual  knowledge  in  Germany  about  the  Holocaust 
is  extremely  high:  92  percent  of  Germans  know  that  Auschwitz,  Dachau,  and 
Treblinka  were  concentration  camps,  and  91  percent  can  identify  the  yellow  star  as 
the  symbol  Jews  were  forced  to  wear  on  their  clothing  during  the  Nazi  regime. 
However,  more  than  1  in  3  think  the  Holocaust  is  no  longer  relevant  because  it 
happened  more  than  50  years  ago.  Western  Germans  have  far  more  negative  atti- 
tudes toward  Jews  than  eastern  Germans:  44  percent  of  Jews  in  the  west  believe  that 
Jews  are  exploiting  the  Holocaust  for  their  own  purposes,  in  contrast  to  19  percent 
of  Germans  in  the  east;  and  24  percent  of  Germans  in  the  west  think  that  Jews  have 
too  much  influence  in  German  society,  compared  to  only  8  percent  of  eastern 

One  of  the  survey's  more  disturbing  findings  is  the  high  degree  of  animosity 
expressed  toward  many  minority  groups:  22  percent  of  Germans  would  prefer  not 
having  Jewish  neighbors,  but  68  percent  reject  having  Gypsies  (Sinti  and  Roma)  as 
neighbors,  47  percent  Arabs,  39  percent  Poles,  37  percent  Africans,  36  percent 
Turks,  and  32  percent  Vietnamese. 

The  Central  Office  for  the  Investigation  of  Nazi  Crimes  in  Ludwigsburg  reported 
that  1,163  cases  were  opened  in  1994,  based  largely  on  newly  available  archive 

286      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR     BOOK,     1996 

material  from  the  former  East  German  secret  service.  However,  most  of  these  cases 
would  take  years  to  investigate,  because  of  serious  understaffing  problems  in  Lud- 
wigsburg.  Thirty-five  cases  were  currently  under  active  investigation;  64  other  inves- 
tigations were  completed  in  1994  and  turned  over  to  law-enforcement  officials. 

A  four-year-old  war-crimes  trial  against  a  former  member  of  the  SS  was  stopped 
by  a  court  in  Miinster  in  February  1994  because  of  the  defendant's  poor  health.  The 
90-year-old  Latvian,  Boleslav  Maikovskis,  chief  of  a  Latvian  police  unit  during  Nazi 
occupation,  was  accused  of  participating  in  the  shooting  of  170  people  in  the  village 
of  Audrini  and  the  execution  of  a  Jewish  person. 

Spanish  authorities  arrested  former  Nazi  general  Otto  Ernst  Remer  in  June  1994, 
but  had  not  yet  ruled  on  Germany's  extradition  request.  Remer,  who  denies  the 
Holocaust,  had  fled  to  Spain  in  March,  after  a  German  court  sentenced  him  to  22 
months  in  prison  on  charges  of  incitement  to  racial  hatred. 

On  July  1,  1994,  U.S.  authorities  handed  over  administration  of  the  former  Berlin 
Document  Center  to  German  officials.  The  documents  remain  open  to  view  by  the 
general  public,  including  U.S.  citizens.  However,  German  law  requires  a  30-year 
waiting  period  after  death  before  personal  documents  are  released.  A  project  to 
microfilm  all  documents  for  the  National  Archives  in  Washington  had  not  been 

Although  German  schoolchildren  learn  the  basic  facts  about  the  Third  Reich, 
there  is  no  systematic  approach  to  Holocaust  studies  in  most  German  high  schools. 
Individual  teachers,  however,  sometimes  pursue  local  history  projects  with  their 
students.  In  Liibeck,  a  group  of  1 5-year-old  students  researched  the  history  of 
Jewish  children  in  their  city  who  were  murdered  by  the  Nazis.  In  the  spring  of  1995 
the  students  convinced  the  school  administration  to  change  the  school  name  to  the 
"Sibling-Prenski-School,"  in  honor  of  three  children  from  Liibeck  murdered  during 
the  Holocaust. 

In  April  1995  a  federal  court  in  Berhn  reaffirmed  the  principle  of  the  unrestricted 
return  of  property  in  eastern  Germany  to  former  Jewish  owners.  The  court  awarded 
a  centrally  located  piece  of  property,  part  of  the  former  Checkpoint  Charlie,  to  the 
heirs  of  a  Jewish  businessman. 

The  American  Jewish  Committee  handed  over  to  the  German  government  in  May 
1995  a  list  of  4,500  Holocaust  survivors  in  the  Baltic  countries,  the  Czech  Republic, 
Poland,  Slovakia,  and  Romania  who  had  not  gotten  compensation.  The  AJC  urged 
the  German  government  to  give  these  survivors  access  to  a  special  fund  set  up  in 
1992  by  the  German  government  for  hardship  cases  among  survivors. 

The  Bonn  government's  reply  was  evasive.  German  officials  were  reportedly 
worried  about  possible  claims  from  millions  of  uncompensated  Nazi  victims  in 
Eastern  Europe  if  individual  payments  were  made  to  Jews  there.  In  Latvia,  for 
example,  the  government  was  demanding  compensation  not  just  for  120  Jewish 
Holocaust  survivors  but  for  11,000  Latvian  "legionnaires"  who  fought  for  the 
German  Wehrmacht  and  the  Waflfen  SS.  The  Green  Party  proposed  setting  up  a 
national  foundation  that  would  pay  monthly  pensions  of  at  least  500  marks  to  all 
Nazi  victims  who  were  never  compensated. 

FEDERAL     REPUBLIC    OF    GERMANY      /      287 

A  longtime  employee  of  the  German  National  Tourist  Office  in  New  York,  Elke 
Berg,  was  fired  in  May  1995  for  her  extreme  right-wing  views.  The  newspaper 
Tageszeitung  uncovered  her  translation  work  for  an  article  denying  the  Holocaust 
in  the  nght-v/ing  Journal  of  Historic  Review.  Her  husband,  Friedrich  Paul  Berg,  is 
a  leading  Holocaust  revisionist.  The  tourist  office  also  came  under  fire  for  a  1984 
study  of  the  U.S.  market  that  recommended  that  Jews,  blacks,  Latinos,  and  Asians 
be  excluded  as  target  groups  for  German  tourism. 

The  German  Tourist  Office  denied  using  the  study,  citing  in  its  defense  a  pamphlet 
published  in  1987,  "Germany  for  the  Jewish  Traveler."  But  the  brochure  also  came 
under  fire.  Aufbau ,  the  German-Jewish  newspaper  in  New  York,  criticized  a  section 
describing  the  cultural  life  of  the  German  Jewish  community  between  1933  and  1938 
as  "flourishing."  The  brochure  concluded  that  "in  the  midst  of  unprecedented 
persecution,  German  Jews  produced  a  vibrant  community."  The  tourist  office  said 
it  would  remove  the  passage  when  it  reprinted  the  brochure. 

A  series  of  mild  court  rulings  in  the  well-publicized  case  of  Holocaust  revisionist 
Giinther  Deckert  triggered  widespread  outrage.  The  ensuing  public  pressure 
prompted  the  government  to  pass  a  law  in  September  1994  making  Holocaust  denial 
a  criminal  oflFense,  punishable  with  up  to  a  five-year  jail  sentence.  Previously,  courts 
had  to  convict  defendants  on  charges  of  racial  hatred,  or  incitement  to  public 
disorder,  which  are  more  difficult  to  prove. 

The  case  involved  the  leader  of  the  right-wing  National  Democratic  Party  (NPD), 
Giinther  Deckert,  who  arranged  for  U.S.  Holocaust  revisionist  Fred  Leuchter  to 
deliver  a  speech  in  Weinheim  in  1991 — translated  into  German  by  Deckert — 
presenting  his  pseudo-scientific  theory  that  gas  was  used  only  for  delousing — not 
killing — at  Auschwitz.  The  Mannheim  prosecutor's  office  filed  charges  against 
Leuchter  and  Deckert  for  disseminating  lies  about  the  Holocaust.  A  lower  court 
convicted  Deckert  in  1992  of  incitement  to  public  disorder,  giving  him  a  suspended 
one-year  sentence.  Leuchter  was  briefly  arrested  in  1993  by  German  authorities 
when  he  returned  to  Germany  to  appear  on  a  television  talk  show,  but  was  released 
by  a  judge  on  a  technicality. 

On  March  15,  1994,  the  First  Senate  of  the  Bundesgerichtshof  (the  federal  court) 
overturned  the  Deckert  ruling,  a  judgment  that  caused  considerable  public  conster- 
nation. The  judges  ruled  that  the  lower  court  had  not  proven  that  Deckert  shared 
Leuchter's  views  on  Holocaust  denial  and  ordered  a  retrial.  At  the  retrial,  the 
Mannheim  judges  again  convicted  Deckert  on  charges  of  incitement  of  racial  hatred 
and  defamation  and  denigration  of  the  dead  and  reimposed  a  one-year  suspended 
sentence.  The  mild  sentence,  as  well  as  the  open  sympathy  of  the  judges  for  Dec- 
kert's  right-wing  opinions,  stirred  nationwide  outrage.  In  the  verdict,  the  judges 
sympathized  with  Deckert's  "desire  to  strengthen  opposition  forces  in  the  German 
nation  against  Jewish  claims  stemming  from  the  Holocaust."  The  judges  said  they 
could  not  ignore  the  fact  that  crimes  of  other  nations  remained  unpunished,  while 

288      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

Germany  continued  to  face  political,  moral,  and  financial  obligations  stemming 
from  the  persecution  of  the  Jews. 

The  ruling  was  condemned  by  top  government  officials,  including  the  justice 
minister,  and  there  were  widespread  calls  for  the  dismissal  of  the  three  judges  who 
wrote  the  opinion.  However,  the  Mannheim  court  refused,  on  the  grounds  that 
decisions  made  under  public  pressure  could  threaten  the  independence  of  the  courts. 
Two  judges  were  put  on  an  extended  leave  of  absence,  ostensibly  for  health  reasons. 
Presiding  judge  Rainer  Orlet  eventually  took  early  retirement. 

Deckert  lost  his  second  appeal.  The  federal  court  in  Karlsruhe  ruled  that  the 
Mannheim  court  conviction  on  charges  of  incitement  of  racial  hatred  was  valid, 
ordering  a  different  court  to  set  the  sentence.  In  April  1 995,  the  Karlsruhe  court 
imposed  a  two-year  prison  sentence.  Deckert  again  appealed,  but  the  federal  court 
was  unlikely  to  overturn  the  decision.  The  Mannheim  prosecutor  filed  a  new  indict- 
ment against  Deckert,  for  organizing  a  lecture  by  British  historian  David  Irving,  a 
leading  denier  of  the  Holocaust. 

Another  court  sentence  on  Holocaust  denial  provoked  widespread  criticism.  The 
state  prosecutor  indicted  two  men  for  a  message  on  a  right-wing  telephone  network 
that  criticized  the  film  Schindler's  List  for  "keeping  alive  the  Auschwitz  Myth."  A 
Hamburg  court  ruled  that  "Auschwitz  Myth"  is  a  neutral  term  that  does  not 
automatically  imply  a  denial  of  Holocaust  atrocities.  The  Hamburg  prosecutor's 
office  filed  an  appeal  against  the  judgment. 


The  plan  of  a  private  foundation  to  build  a  national  Holocaust  memorial  in  Berlin 
engendered  nationwide  controversy.  The  foundation's  prize-winning  design,  created 
by  a  Berlin  artists  group  headed  by  Christine  Jackob-Marks,  consisted  of  a  gargan- 
tuan slab  of  dark  gray  concrete  covering  an  area  roughly  the  size  of  two  football 
fields,  to  be  inscribed  with  the  names  of  millions  of  Holocaust  victims.  The  original 
plan  to  raise  funds  by  selling  the  names  was  scrapped  after  protest  by  the  Jewish 

Among  other  objections  to  the  design,  some  Jewish  leaders  feared  that  the  absence 
of  a  complete  listing  (many  Holocaust  victims  have  not  been  identified  and  may 
never  be)  could  encourage  right-wing  extremists  to  continue  questioning  the  reality 
of  the  Holocaust,  or  that  the  sight  of  millions  of  names  would  generate  a  sense  of 
anonymity,  instead  of  individual  identity,  as  the  artists  intended.  Many  art  experts 
questioned  whether  a  monument  of  this  scale  could  convey  a  sense  of  reflection  and 

Even  in  the  face  of  all  this  criticism,  the  private  foundation  backing  the  memorial 
refused  to  reopen  the  competition.  However,  the  monument  was  also  being  funded 
by  the  federal  government  and  the  city  of  Berlin,  and  top  officials  on  both  levels 
rejected  the  Jackob-Marks  design.  No  decision  was  expected  until  late  1995. 

In  May  1994,  a  monument  to  German-Jewish  writer  Walter  Benjamin  wasun- 

FEDERAL    REPUBLIC    OF    GERMANY      /      289 

veiled  in  Port  Bou,  the  city  on  the  French-Spanish  border  where  Benjamin  commit- 
ted suicide  on  his  flight  from  the  Nazis.  The  monument,  designed  by  Israeli  artist 
Dani  Karavan,  is  dedicated  to  all  refugees  who  fled  the  Nazi  regime.  The  project 
was  nearly  stopped  after  the  Federal  Press  Office  canceled  its  funding,  but  Ger- 
many's state  governments  agreed  to  pay  for  the  monument,  together  with  the 
Catalonian  government. 

The  German  federal  and  state  governments  pledged  to  spend  DM  30  million  on 
the  conservation  and  maintenance  of  the  memorial  site  at  Auschwitz  in  Poland.  An 
initiative  launched  by  the  public  television  station  NDR,  called  "Against  Forget- 
ting," also  collected  funds  for  the  preservation  of  Auschwitz.  The  Polish  govern- 
ment appealed  for  funds  to  stop  deterioration  and  help  maintain  buildings  and 
grounds  on  the  enormous  site. 

The  maintenance  of  former  concentration  camps  in  eastern  Germany  was  also 
endangered.  The  budget  for  the  memorial  sites  at  Sachsenhausen  and  Ravensbruck 
had  been  significantly  reduced,  forcing  job  dismissals  and  the  postponement  of  all 
renovation  work.  The  only  current  project  was  the  reconstruction  of  the  Jewish 
barracks  in  Sachsenhausen,  which  burned  down  in  a  1 992  arson  attack  by  right-wing 
extremists.  The  directors  of  the  memorial  sites  said  they  no  longer  had  enough  staff" 
to  fulfill  all  requests  for  guided  tours. 

Several  Holocaust  memorials  were  dedicated  in  this  period  after  extensive  contro- 
versies were  settled  regarding  their  location,  size,  and  artistic  merit.  In  Hannover, 
a  memorial  near  the  opera  house  was  erected  in  memory  of  the  city's  1,882  Jewish 
citizens  murdered  by  the  Nazis.  And  in  Berlin,  a  Holocaust  monument  in  the  district 
of  Steglitz  was  dedicated,  with  the  names  of  the  1,723  Jewish  residents  deported  by 
the  Nazis  inscribed  on  a  30-foot-long  reflective  steel  wall.  The  municipal  city  council 
tried  to  stop  the  project,  which  was  designed  by  Joachim  von  Rosenberg  and 
Wolfgang  Goeschel,  but  was  overruled  by  Berlin  city  officials. 



The  Jewish  community  grew  substantially  in  this  period,  due  largely  to  the 
continued  immigration  of  Jews  from  the  former  Soviet  Union.  In  December  1994, 
the  community  had  47,133  registered  members  (up  from  40,917  in  1993).  The 
estimated  number  of  unaffiliated  Jews  was  up  to  20,000. 

Most  regional  and  local  communities  reported  a  growth  in  membership  compared 
to  1993:  Baden  2,411  (up  338);  Bavaria  6,500  (up  750);  Berlin  9,840  (up  357); 
Brandenburg  162  (no  change);  Bremen  396  (up  88);  Frankfurt  5,715  (down  62); 
Hamburg  2,359  (up  564);  Hesse  2,575  (up  275);  Cologne  2,167  (up  171);  Mecklen- 
berg- Western  Pomerania  166  (down  5);  Lower  Saxony  2,828  (up  1,793);  North 
Rhine  5,819  (up  1,095);  Rhineland  Palatinate  534  (up  27);  Saarland  525  (up  101); 

290      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

Saxony  232  (up  19);  Saxony- Anhalt  244  (up  84);  Thuringia  180  (down  39);  West- 
phalia 3,052  (up  630);  Wurttemberg  1,428  (up  30). 

Soviet  Jews 

The  German  government  continued  its  policy  of  controlled  immigration  of  Jews 
from  the  former  Soviet  Union  (FSU),  under  which  about  5,000  had  entered  each 
year  since  1990.  However,  an  estimated  20,000  more  emigrants,  whose  applications 
had  been  approved  by  German  consulates  in  the  FSU  since  1990,  did  not  come  to 
Germany,  probably  because  applicants  moved  to  other  countries.  In  March  1994, 
the  German  government  instituted  a  rule  that  emigration  approval  was  only  valid 
for  one  year.  The  approval  process  usually  took  from  one  to  three  years. 

The  German  government  instituted  an  organized  system  of  distributing  the  refu- 
gees proportionally  among  the  German  states,  according  to  the  size  of  the  state, 
While  this  policy  served  to  revive  Jewish  communities  throughout  the  country,  it 
also  kept  many  ex-Soviet  Jews  far  from  the  centers  of  Jewish  life  in  Germany,  thus 
limiting  their  exposure  to  Jewish  religious  and  cultural  experience. 

The  newcomers  received  an  unlimited  residence  permit,  which  gave  them  access 
to  most  social  benefits,  including  health  insurance,  six  months  of  language  training, 
job  training,  and  subsidized  public  housing.  But  as  there  were  long  waiting  lists  in 
Germany  for  such  housing,  many  of  the  immigrants  still  lived  in  cramped  refugee 

Integration  into  German  life  and  into  the  established  Jewish  community  remained 
difficult  for  many  of  the  recent  arrivals.  Eighty  percent  were  professionals,  but  most 
had  not  found  jobs,  because  training  and  job  experience  rarely  corresponded  to 
German  standards.  This  was  a  particular  problem  for  doctors.  Since  1993,  many 
younger  family  members  had  been  joined  by  parents  and  grandparents,  whose  poor 
health  further  complicated  integration. 

The  small  Jewish  community  structures  in  Germany  were  nearly  overwhelmed 
by  the  task  of  integrating  the  immigrants  into  the  community.  Many  of  the  Jews 
from  the  FSU  spoke  neither  German  nor  Yiddish,  creating  language  difficulties. 
Teaching  the  immigrants  the  fundamentals  of  Judaism  was  complicated  by  the  low 
number  of  rabbis  and  religious  teachers  in  Germany,  as  well  as  the  lack  of  teaching 
materials  on  Jewish  religion  in  both  Russian  and  German.  The  larger  communities 
tried  to  send  religious  leaders  on  a  regular  basis  to  communities  composed  mainly 
of  ex-Soviet  Jews,  to  teach  them  how  to  participate  in  Jewish  religious  life.  Several 
dozen  Jewish  communities  in  Germany  now  consisted  primarily  of  Jews  from  the 
former  Soviet  Union.  New  communities  included  Loerrach  and  Emmendingen,  in 
southwest  Germany,  near  the  Swiss  border,  and  Dessau,  in  eastern  Germany. 

The  Central  Jewish  Welfare  Office  offered  integration  seminars  for  ex-Soviet  Jews 
at  its  kosher  hotel  in  Bad  Kissingen.  The  one-week  seminar  exposed  the  immigrants 
to  Jewish  traditions  and  prayer,  as  well  as  to  the  basics  of  the  German  social  system. 
To  date,  approximately  600  people  had  attended.  Some  of  the  immigrants  started 

FEDERAL     REPUBLIC    OF    GERMANY      /      291 

attending  worship  services  regularly,  and  a  number  were  elected  to  leadership 
positions  within  local  Jewish  communities. 

Communal  Affairs 

The  continuing  stability  of  postwar  German  democracy  and  the  growth  in  the  size 
of  the  Jewish  community  were  changing  the  character  of  the  postwar  Jewish  com- 
munity profoundly.  Many  of  the  Holocaust  survivors  who  settled  in  Germany  after 
the  war  assumed  that  the  resumption  of  Jewish  life  was  only  a  temporary  phenome- 
non. However,  younger  Jews  in  particular  were  starting  to  seek  a  modem,  more 
permanent  approach  to  Jewish  communal  life.  The  hostility  of  Jewish  communities 
elsewhere  to  the  renewal  of  Jewish  life  in  Germany  was  also  declining. 

The  Central  Council  of  Jews  in  Germany  announced  that  it  was  shutting  down 
the  only  national  Jewish  newspaper  in  Germany,  the  Allgemeine  Jiidische  Wochen- 
zeitung,  because  of  the  paper's  continual  deficit.  However,  the  decision  was  re- 
scinded after  considerable  public  protest,  including  an  appeal  by  prominent  Jewish 
journalists.  Supporters  said  the  journalistic  quality  of  the  paper  had  improved 
considerably  in  recent  years  and  argued  that  a  growing  Jewish  community  required 
a  national  publication.  To  save  money,  the  newspaper  was  cut  back  from  a  weekly 
to  a  biweekly  format,  and  the  newly  opened  Berlin  office  was  shut  down. 

An  Orthodox  Jewish  group  in  Berlin,  Adass  Yisroel,  won  its  court  case  against 
the  state  of  Berlin  for  recognition  as  the  lawful  reconstitution  of  the  prewar  Adass 
Yisroel  community.  Berlin  appealed  the  October  1994  ruling  to  a  district  court.  If 
the  ruling  were  to  be  confirmed,  the  community  could  reclaim  the  considerable 
property  holdings  of  the  prewar  Orthodox  community. 

The  case  had  important  implications,  because  it  challenged  the  exclusive  owner- 
ship rights  of  the  Conference  on  Jewish  Material  Claims  Against  Germany  to 
prewar  Jewish-owned  property  in  Germany.  In  1952  the  Bonn  government  desig- 
nated the  Claims  Conference  as  the  legal  successor  to  Germany's  prewar  Jewish 
communities,  with  rights  to  all  property.  The  postwar  communities  were  considered 
newly  constituted  communities  without  property  claims.  After  unification,  the  Jew- 
ish Claims  Conference  filed  numerous  claims  on  former  pieces  of  Jewish  property 
in  eastern  Germany.  The  outcome  of  the  Adass  Yisroel  suit  could  affect  some  of 
these  claims. 


The  rapid  growth  of  the  Jewish  community  had  forced  into  the  open  the  long- 
repressed  issue  of  religious  pluralism.  The  decades-long  insistence  of  Jewish  officials 
on  maintaining  exclusively  Orthodox  institutions  was  increasingly  being  called  into 
question,  especially  as  the  vast  majority  of  Jews  in  Germany  were  not  practicing 
Orthodox  Jews.  Groups  of  younger  Jews,  as  well  as  communities  with  large  numbers 
of  Russian  immigrants,  were  trying  to  launch  more  religiously  liberal  frameworks. 

292      /      AMERICAN    JEWISH    YEAR    BOOK,     1996 

(The  Reform  Jewish  movement  began  in  Germany  in  the  19th  century,  but  most 
of  the  Jews  who  remained  in  Germany  after  the  war  were  displaced  Eastern  Euro- 
pean Jews,  unfamiUar  with  the  German  Reform  movement.)  Possibilities  for  attend- 
ing regular  Reform  services  in  BerUn  and  Frankfurt  ended  with  the  withdrawal  of 
U.S.  forces  there. 

At  the  same  time,  older  Jews  as  well  as  many  younger  Jews  and  Soviet  immigrants 
preferred  to  maintain  the  traditional  structures,  arguing  that  the  spread  of  Reform 
Judaism  would  lead  to  a  deterioration  of  knowledge  about  the  religion,  eventually 
endangering  the  community's  viability.  There  were  also  concerns  that  the  formation 
of  separate  liberal  congregations  would  spHnter  the  existing  communities,  diminish- 
ing their  capacity  to  administer  a  broad  range  of  social  and  educational  institutions. 
However,  some  Jewish  officials  signaled  a  willingness  to  consider  offering  Reform 
worship  services,  in  addition  to  Orthodox  ones,  to  prevent  division  of  the  unified 

Some  of  the  newly  founded  communities,  such  as  Oldenburg  and  Gottingen, 
constituted  themselves  as  Conservative  or  Reform  congregations.  This  was  not 
possible  in  cities  with  existing  communities,  which  were  all  Orthodox.  In  Heidel- 
berg, for  instance,  the  community  briefly  tolerated  simultaneous  Reform  and  Ortho- 
dox services  within  the  synagogue,  but  the  Reform  services  were  stopped  by  the 
regional  rabbi,  and  the  group  began  to  meet  outside  the  synagogue.  In  Frankfurt, 
the  liberal  Kehila  Chadasha  group  began  holding  biweekly  Reform  services  and 
Torah  discussion  groups. 

Other  groups,  such  as  the  Jewish  Forum  in  Cologne,  focused  more  on  culture  than 
religion.  This  rapidly  growing  organization  offered  concerts,  lectures,  discussion 
groups,  and  Sabbath  get-togethers.  A  monthly  Sabbath  service  was  also  instituted. 

On  June  18,  1995,  a  national  body,  the  Working  Group  of  Reform  Jewish  and 
Conservative  Communities  and  Organizations,  was  founded  by  1 1  constituents:  the 
Jewish  communities  of  Gottingen,  Bamberg,  Braunschweig,  and  Oldenburg;  and  the 
following  organizations:  Derech  Chadascha,  Heidelberg;  Kehila  Chadasha,  Frank- 
furt; Jiidische  Gemeinschaft  Kadima,  Hannover;  Klub  Progressives  Judentum,  Ber- 
lin; Rosh  Chodesh,  Berlin;  Jiidische  Forum,  Cologne;  and  a  group  in  formation  in 
Kassel.  A  membership  meeting  in  October  was  expected  to  ratify  the  decision  to 
found  the  council. 


The  desire  for  more  permanence  and  the  influx  of  ex-Soviet  Jews  combined  to 
produce  a  boom  in  synagogue  construction.  An  unusual  circular-shaped  synagogue 
in  Heidelberg,  designed  by  architect  Alfred  Jacoby,  was  dedicated  in  January  1994. 
The  British-born  Jacoby  also  designed  the  synagogue  that  opened  its  doors  in  May 
1995  in  Aachen,  with  an  auditorium,  a  mikveh,  a  library,  and  schoolrooms.  The 
architect's  next  project  was  to  be  a  new  synagogue  in  Offenbach.  Jacoby  was  praised 
by  critics  as  the  first  postwar  architect  in  Germany  to  develop  a  distinctive  Jewish 

FEDERAL    REPUBLIC    OF    GERMANY      /      293 

vernacular  for  synagogue  buildings.  Altogether,  about  30  new  or  reconstructed 
synagogue  projects  were  currently  under  way,  financed  by  German  state  and  local 

The  Frankfurt  West  End  Synagogue's  original  turn-of-the-century  interior,  with 
elaborate  oriental  motifs,  was  restored  after  six  years  of  renovation.  The  synagogue, 
built  in  1910,  was  damaged  during  the  Nazi  era  and  hastily  repaired  during  the 
1950s  in  the  then  current  modern  style. 

The  northern  German  city  of  Oldenburg  gave  the  town's  newly  constitu